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Empowerment Of Women In The Legal Profession In Independent India

This paper reflected the women empowerment in judiciary sector doing the legal practice in work place. Women are the symbol of sacrifice, kindness, excuse, softness and tolerance. She is the kind-hearted 'mother' from whom blessings always flow for her children. This article's main goal is to advance equality.

In the current situation, women's empowerment has emerged as one of the 21st century's top issues. Women's empowerment is a popular topic right now in India. There can be no gender-based discrimination, according to the Indian Constitution. Women's admittance into the legal system was only made possible after protracted legal fights, and even then, until the 20th century's close, their presence in the courts was minimal. In order to effectively promote their well-being, women challenge the current conventions and society. This process is known as "women empowerment."

Introduction:
In our society women enjoy a unique position and their contribution to social development and progress can never be denied. In almost all parts of the world, their role in building the national character is significant. Indians used to refer to their nation as Bharat-Mata, but they never understood its actual significance. Bharat-Mata is the name for the mother of every Indian, whom we must protect and revere.

Around 50% of the world's population is made up of women. In India today, women are equally represented in fields including education, sports, politics, journalism, the arts and culture, the service industry, science and technology, etc. The longest-serving woman prime minister in history was Indira Gandhi, who led India as prime minister for a total of fifteen years.

The Indian Constitution not only guarantees women's equality but also gives the State the authority to implement positive discrimination policies in order to counteract the accumulated socio-economic, educational, and political disadvantages women experience of them

Fundamental Rights include, among other things, the guarantee of equality before the law and equal protection under the law, the prohibition of discrimination against any citizen on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth, and the assurance of equal opportunity to all citizens in matters relating to employment. Articles 14, 15, 15(3), 16, 39(a), 39(b), and 39(c) of the Constitution are particularly significant in this regard.

"With more than 6,000 000, legal Professionals, India has the second-largest legal profession worldwide. Small or family-run firms and individual attorneys are the main service providers. The majority of the firms deal with matters of domestic law and the adversarial litigation system used by the nation. Instead of being viewed as services, legal services were conceptualised as a "noble profession," which led to the creation of rigid and constrictive regulatory machinery.

Public policy and the "dignity of the profession" have been cited as the justifications for these regulations". (Joshi, 2020) The judiciary has reinforced these principles, which can be reflected in the words of Justice Krishna Iyer (2009) "Law is not a trade, not briefs, not merchandise and so the heaven of commercial competition should not vulgarize the legal profession".

However, courts have established that "Legal Service" is a "service" delivered to customers over time and have ruled that lawyers are responsible to clients if their services are subpar. According to the Consumer Protection Act of 1986, the term "Service" is defined in Section 2(U) of the Competition Act of 2002. Thus, it can be said that legal services are now covered by trade-related legislation, even though consumerism and market forces ought to have enough room.

What Is Women Empowerment?

The Empowerment of women has come to be recognized as one of the basic attributes for a progressive and thriving nation. In the words of the former secretary-general of the UN, Kofi Annan: "There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women." APJ Abdul Kalam, former president of India, was also famously quoted saying that, "empowerment of women leads to the development of a good family, good society and ultimately a good nation".

Women empowerment implies the ability in women to make decisions cornering their life and work and giving equal rights to them in all spheres like personal, social, economic, political, and legal and so on. Women are working side by side with men in the workplace today because of the empowerment of women.

As they balance managing their families while also trying to work and contribute to the needs of their families, women's empowerment is crucial for the future success of any nation. The value of a mother, sister, or daughter in a family must ever be understated. Women empowerment is not limited to urban and even women in remote towns and villages are now increasingly making their voices heard loud and clear in society. Women are now claiming the socio-political rights (right to work, right to education, right to decide, etc) for them. The Parliament of India to has passed various legislations to save women from various forms of injustice and discrimination. ey balance managing their families while also trying to work and contribute to the needs of their families, women's empowerment is crucial for the future success of any nation. The value of a mother, sister, or daughter in a family must ever be understated.

  • Women empowerment is not limited to urban and even women in remote towns and villages are now increasingly making their voices heard loud and clear in society.

  • Women are now claiming the socio-political rights (right to work, right to education, right to decide, etc) for them. The Parliament of India to has passed various legislations to save women from various forms of injustice and discrimination.

  • Women empowerment following the law are enacted:
    • Equal Remuneration Act-1976;
    • Dowry Prohibition Act-1961;
    • Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act-1956,
    • Medical termination of Pregnancy Act-1971;
    • Maternity Benefit Act-1961;
    • Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act-1987;
    • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act-2006;
    • Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act-1994; and
    • Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place (Prevention, Protection and) Act-2013.
       
  • More recently, in the wake of the Nirbhaya case involving the rape and brutal murder of a paramedical student in Delhi, the government has passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2015. This Act makes a significant departure from the earlier Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, as the juvenile age inviting punishment for offense now stands reduced from 18 to 16 years.
     
  • The most effective remedy to kill such devils is making women empowered by ensuring the Right to Equality mentioned in Article 14, Constitution of India.
     
  • According to the provisions of the Constitution of India, it is a legal point to grant equality to women in society in all spheres just like males have.
        

Women in Profession

The status of women in Indian tradition has generated debate. Although they have been given a prominent position in society in theory, the reality has always been very different from the ideal. For a very long period, women remained conspicuously absent from the majority of modern occupations. The economic situation, religious practices, and thought patterns of the populace have all had a different impact on how women are positioned in various sections of the nation.

Again this backdrop, India's struggle for independence proved to be a great boon to the cause of women in India, as most of its leaders had their grounding in the Western liberal education system. In post-independence India, the contemporary feminist movement began by basing itself firmly on the principles of equality and asserting that the gender-based structures, such as the sexual division of labour, oppressed and subordinated women.

This cry of helplessness and vulnerability gave Indian feminism a new subjectivity by expressing feelings that had hitherto gone unspoken. At the same time, the emphasis on working women signalled a rejection of the wife-mother stereotype in favour of that of a woman who can support herself financially. It also reflected the emergence of class awareness along with a desire to unite and mobilise women and the growing influence of feminists in office politics.

While most urban women work in the services industry, women in rural India are primarily employed in agricultural and domestic labour. The majority of these women, who come from middle- and upper-class households, seek employment to improve their family's standard of living. However, some people of highly educated and talented women is also emerging as civil servants, legal practitioners, medical practitioners, engineers, professors, directors, etc. These women are propelled by their ambitions and the desire to give expression to their talents.(Sen, 1991).

Changing Face of Legal Profession

Globalization brought about a revolution in international trade with increasing participation and involvement of countries and greater access to domestic economies. The implication of the same on the legal service sector has been both quantitative and qualitative. The past decade has been a mini-revolution in the legal service sector with the greatest legal impact on the corporate legal arena Activities in project financing, intellectual property protection, environmental protection, competition law, corporate taxation; infrastructure contract, corporate governance and investment law were almost unknown before the '90s.

The Number of Law firms capable of dealing with such work was very few. The need for professional service has been tremendous in the legal service sector. In the last few years, Law Firms in house firms and individual lawyer's expertise in providing legal services in the corporate sector have increased by several times. ( (Joshi, 2020)

These new law firms focus on developing loan instruments, infrastructure and power contracts, project financing agreements, and agreements for transnational investment, joint ventures, and technology transfer. This is a clear indication of the rising legal sectors' tendency to settle disputes through Advanced Debt Recovery Solutions (ADRS) rather than through confrontational litigation.

Due to globalisation, demand for legal services has increased both inside and externally. At the same time, significant for the progressive development of the legal profession in India is this era of Globalization.

Work in the Legal field

The term legal service sector is a completely different type of service as compared to software programming, medical practice, or other professional services. Though it is more or less protect from intrusion sinceits traditional base is derived not only from statutes and the existence of statutory bodies but also from the conservative and traditional mindset that inhibits the development of cross border service supply.

Even on a worldwide scale, the legal service industry is inexorably constrained by jurisdictional restrictions like the need for a degree from the nation where the service is to be provided. Only some components of legal services are subject to particular local concerns, while others are not. Where local factors are significant, they must be maintained, and only exceptions for global market access should be made.

Consequently, on the one hand, it is necessary to join the global brotherhood and to take on advantageous responsibilities that promote trade in services and on the other hand, there is a need to preserve national interest.

The Nature of the Legal Profession
Law is always given an epoch position for its importance in maintaining proper decorum, in the execution of powers, in tackling various problems, but the law in itself is a matter of minute understanding, interpretation and deliberation, and hence, keeping these things in mind, a league of well-educated laureates of various ages at various times has taken efforts to practice this discipline and make it accessible to those for whom it is created and exists.

There are several aspects of legal professions that create a culture or mindset that generates significant reservations regarding that whole notion of leadership development training for lawyers as being important or essential. First off, our industry considers itself to be among society's elite. Because they are lawyers, lawyers tend to believe that they are good leaders.

But the reality is that many lawyers lack significant training in leadership development outside of what they learn from the "school of hard knocks," as little or no training in leadership development is provided to law students, and only a small number of continuing legal education courses�which is a growing trend�teach it..

Position and Status of Women

The position and status of women all over the world have risen extraordinarily in the 20th century. We find that it has been very low in past centuries in India and hence they were treated like 'objects' that can be bought and sold. For a long time, women in India remained within the four walls of their household. They depend on the menfolk.

The practices of female infanticide, child marriage, sati (self-immolation by the wives with their husbands), the dowry system, and perpetual widowhood were all outlawed in India.

It would benefit the countless women in the nation who are mistreated by their spouses and lack the documentation necessary to establish their marital status. Additionally, it would make it possible for women to seek child support and custody, as well as the ability for widows to claim inheritance rights. It would also help prevent underage marriages, bigamy, and polygamy. No matter their caste, creed, or religion, all women are subject to the Act's requirements. Indian women's empowerment to exercise their rights is greatly aided by this.

Women and the Legal Profession

Journalistic, academic, and medical fields were the first to experience the impact of women. In subsequent years, fields that were predominately held by men, like as politics, the legal system, management, and the civil service, began to be impacted by feminism. Families from the orthodox, backward, and conservative strata are not exempt from the intense burden of economic need that has recently impacted society. One of the most notable social developments in recent years, frequently referred to as "revolutionary," over the past four decades has been the introduction and increasing representation of women in the legal profession.

Lawyers wield much power and influence in social, economic and political circles. Law also is known to be a male-dominated profession, much like academia, accounting, architecture, investment banking, and management consulting. Despite increasing female representation in law schools and entry-level legal positions over the past few decades, structural segregation of women in this male-dominated profession perpetuates large disparities between the career trajectories of male and female lawyers Even across wildly different national and legal cultures, it is simple to relate the tale of women in the legal profession.

Women were underrepresented among law school graduates, legal practitioners, and any occupation involving legal labour, however broadly defined, until quite recently. In these nations, altering the requirements for admission to the practice of law required a change in the law, whether by legislation or common law growth. In other countries [Newzealand, for example] women were never legally prohibited from entering the profession, but they did not enter the field, and the participation of women in the profession strongly tracks the development in other countries with more formal barriers.

Social barriers to entry and participation in the profession seem more powerful than legally prescribed limits. Similarly, changed social conditions, such as the international women's movement, the democratization of university education and new methods of birth control and attitudes towards the family have affected enormous changes in the participation of women in the legal profession. To be sure there are some cultural or national variations, but there is substantial uniformity across countries.

Legal Profession in Pre-British India

The legal profession in Pre-British India was not as organized as today. Actually, the legal profession as it exists today was created and developed during the British period. During the Hindu and Muslim period, the Courts derived their authority from the king. The king was considered to be the fountainhead of justice. The king's Court was superior to all other courts. The King's Court was the highest court of appeal.

It had original jurisdiction in important cases. The king was advised by his Councilors' in hearing and deciding the cases. However, the king was not bound by their advice. The king, thus, made law through his decisions. The institution of the lawyer as it exists today was not in existence during that period. The general principle was that the decision should not be given by a person singly and therefore a bench of two judges was always preferred.

Even, during the Muslim period, the legal profession was not organized. The King was regarded as the fountain of justice. He was regarded as a servant of the God on the earth and his duty was to see that his laws were obeyed. It was the primary duty of the King to administer justice. He could disclose his duties personally or through his officers. The King was the chief judge of the Emperor and Keeper of God's conscience.

The courts were to be guided by Quran, Sunna, Ijina, etc. The law of evidence was not satisfactory. The evidence of a Mohammedan was given more weight than that of a Hindu. A Muslim could not be convicted for the offense of murder on the evidence of a non-Muslim. The evidence of a female was considered inferior to that of a male. Thus, before the British period, the legal profession was not organized. There was no provision for legal training.

Before the rise of the British power in India, the administration of justice in Northern India was in the hand of courts established by the Moghul Emperors or ruling Chiefs owing allegiance to them. In addition, the big zamindars also had courts exercising civil and criminal jurisdiction. There existed a class of persons called Vakils. They acted more as agents for principals than as lawyers.

Legal Profession in pre-independence

In the pre-independence era of India, women's entry into the legal profession witnessed a dramatic and yet challenging beginning, starting from a series of infamous cases. In 1916, a special bench of five judges of the High Court of Calcutta, in the case of Regina Guha, held that the word "persons", referred to at various places in the Legal Practitioners Act, 1879, means males and not females, and thus only men could be admitted as pleaders of the subordinate courts.

Subsequently, in the Sudhansu Bala Hazra case, a full bench of the Patna High Court once again upheld the above-mentioned view. Both high courts negated the argument taken by the petitioners, relying upon the General Clauses Act, 1868, that the words importing the masculine gender should also include females.

The courts held that it was not the intention of the legislature to reverse established policy or introduce a fundamental change in long-established principles of law that barred women's admission as pleaders. Interestingly, the judges authoring these judgments unanimously observed that their duty as judges was limited to the declaration of law, and whether any change in the law was wise or expedient was for the legislature to consider.

After these two significant developments, the Indian legislature finally passed the Legal Practitioners (Woman) Act, 1923, removing the disqualification and affirming that "no woman shall, by reason only of her sex, be disqualified from being admitted or enrolled as a legal practitioner, or from practicing as such". The passing of this act allowed women lawyers to be enrolled as pleaders and practice in the courts of India.

The Legal profession in Post-Independent

Post-independence, and upon adoption of the Indian Constitution in 1950, Indian women were conferred with fundamental and constitutional rights to safeguard their status and position in society, including the right of equality, right against discrimination only on grounds of sex, freedom to practice any profession, etc. The framers of the Indian Constitution considered the empowerment of women in society as a key to development.

However, in India, up until the past two decades or so, the legal profession was not a preferred profession for women owing to concerns such as the lack of a female-sensitized workplace environment, low compensation, and fewer avenues available compared to male counterparts. Fortunately, the scenario at workplaces nowadays is better.

Applying the concept of women's empowerment in the legal fraternity, particularly within law firms, it becomes all the more indispensable to ensure that women lawyers are given the right kind of support, as it is the most effective way to pierce through multiple barriers of communication, for instance, those that may exist between a male attorney and a female client in certain situations.

Now also endeavor to ensure that our women lawyers engage in assignments that give them the best professional exposure. Women lawyers at the firm are routinely appointed (by varied multinational companies having their branch/subsidiary offices in India) as independent members on the internal complaints committees mandated under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

More and more women are coming forward to choose law as an option, and it is reflected in the increase in the number of women at top-level management in top-tier firms. Speaking of women's role in the legal fraternity, the slow but very apparent increase and prominence of women in the judiciary cannot be left unaddressed.

Legal and Constitutional Provisions For Women In India

  1. The Crimes Identified Under the Indian Penal Code (IPC)
    1. Rape (Sec.376 IPC)
    2. Kidnapping & Abduction for different purposes ( Sec. 363-373)
    3. Homicide for Dowry, Dowry Deaths or their attempts (Sec. 302/304-B IPC)
    4. Torture, both mental and physical (Sec. 498-A IPC)
    5. Molestation (Sec. 354 IPC)
    6. Sexual Harassment (Sec. 509 IPC)
    7. Importation of girls (up to21 years of age
       
  2. The Crimes identified under the Special Laws (SLL)
    • The Special Marriage Act, 1954
    • The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
    • The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (Amended in 1995)
    • Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
    • The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971
    • The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
    • The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
    • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1983
    • Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
    • Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987
    • The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
       
  3. Constitutional Privileges
    • (Article 14) Equality before law for women. According to Article 14, The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
    • (Article 15) Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. (Article 15(1))The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth or any of them. (Article 15(3)) The State to make any special provision in favor of women and children.
    • (Article 16) Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment.
      (Article 16(1)) There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state.
    • (Article 19) Freedom Of Speech And Expression
      (Article 19(1)(a)) states that, all citizens shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression.
    • ( Article 21) Protection of life and personal liberty.No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.
    • (Article 39) Directive Principles of State Policy
      (Article 39(a)) The State to direct its policy towards securing for men and women equally the right to an adequate means of livelihood.
    • (Article 39(d)) directs the state to secure equal pay for equal work for both men and women.
    • (Article 39 A) To promote justice, on a basis of equal opportunity and to provide free legal aid by suitable legislation or scheme or in any other way to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen because of economic or other disabilities.
    • Article 42 of the Constitution incorporates a very important provision for the benefit of women. It directs the State to make provisions for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.
    • (Article 51(A) (e)) is related to women. It states that;It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic, regional, or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.
       
    • Article 243 D: Reservation of seats.(Article 243 D(1)) Seats shall be reserved for:
      1. The Scheduled Castes; and
      2. The Scheduled Tribes,
    • (Article 243 D(2)) No less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved under clause (1) shall be reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes or, as the case may be, the Scheduled tribes
    • (Article 243 D(3)) Not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Panchayat to be reserved for women and such seats to be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Panchayat.
    • (Article 243 D (4)) Not less than one-third of the total number of offices of Chairpersons in the Panchayat at each level is to be reserved for women.
    • Article 243 T: Reservation of seats
    • (Article 243 T (3)) Not less than one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every Municipality to be reserved for women and such seats to be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Municipality.
    • (Article 243 T (4)) Reservation of offices of Chairpersons in Municipalities for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and women in such manner as the legislature of a State may by law provide

Conclusion
The Empowerment of Women has become one of the most important concerns of the 21st century not only at the national level but also at the international level. Women Empowerment helps to make the society and world a better place to live in and march forward on way to inclusive participation in the legal field. It means to increase happiness for the family and the organizations where women make a difference. At present, the public image of women lawyers is far from flattering.

They are seen as fortune seekers rather than seeking to serve. In a developing society, women lawyers must play an equal and important role in the development. Improvement in the traditional status of women lawyers, therefore, is a necessary first step in their day-to-day activities. However to ensure a fruitful participation of women in the legal profession. The first is the need to bring about a qualitative improvement in the participation of women legal professionals.

References:
  1. Anjali Chandal(2015) Women empowerment and constitutional Provisions, legal service India, e- journal
  2. Saba Yunus and SeemaVerma (2015). Legal Provisions for Women Empowerment in India. International Journal of Humanities and Management Sciences,3(5)367-370
  3. Honour, status & polity" by Pratibha Jain, SaṅgītāŚarmā.
  4. "Status of Women in India" by ShobanaNelasco, p.11
  5. OSR Journal of Business and Management - A Study on Issues and Challenges of Women Empowerment in India  By Dr. (Smt.) Rajeshwari M. Shettar
  6. Indiacelebrating.com Article on Women empowerment- Winds of change
  7. Times of India- ByMitaKapur, Founder, curator and producer of Woman Up! Summit
  8. Legal service India-Women empowerment: With Special Reference to Constitutional Provisions- By aniketsmls
  9. Constitution of India GopalSankaranarayanan
  10. Abel, Richard (1988), Comparative Sociology of Legal Professions: An Explanatory Essay. American Bar Foundation Research Journal, 10(1), Winter, 1-80.
  11. Bar Council of Allahabad (2014), Record of Registered Legal Practitioners in UP. Lucknow: U.P. Govt. Press.
  12. Buckee, Gillian F. M. (1972), An Examination of the Development and Structure of the Legal Profession at Allahabad, 1866-1935. Unpublished PhD Thesis presented to the University of London, the United Kingdom.
  13. Gooptu, Sorabji (2007), Cornelia Sorabji, India's Pioneer Woman Lawyer: A Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  14. Kay, Fiona; Gorman, Elizabeth (2008), "Women in the Legal Profession", The Annual Review of the Law and Social Science, 4, 299-332.
  15. Paul, John Jeya (1991), Legal Profession in Colonial South India. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  16. Sen, Anima (1999), Problems and Potentials of Women Professionals across Cultural Perspectives. New Delhi: GyanPublishers.Vadagama, Kusoom (ed.) (2011), An Indian Portia: Selected Writings of Cornelia Sorabji, 1855 to 1954. New Delhi: Zubaan.
  17. Saba Yanus . (2015). Legal Provisions for Women empowerment inindia. Internaltional Journal of Humanities and Management Sciences , 3 (5), 367-370.
  18. Joshi, S. (2020). Changing Face of The Legal Profession In India In The Era of Globalization. Environment Law

Also Read:
  1. Journey Of Women Empowerment
  2. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's Role In Women Empowerment
  3. Women Empowerment And Constitutional Provisions
  4. Judicial Activism and Women Empowerment In India
  5. The Responsibility Of Women Empowerment On Media
  6. Women Empowerment, Gender Justice And The Role Of Law
  7. Social Media And Women Empowerment: A Brand New Facet
  8. Women empowerment: With Special Reference to Constitutional Provisions
  9. Women Empowerment in India: Discussing Liberal Feminism and Legal Interventions

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