Justice M.M. Sundresh of the Apex Court said yesterday while speaking at an event that according to him, the reservation for women should be vertical rather than horizontal. He also said that the colonial mindset favouring the English language should change.

Justice Sundresh was speaking at the '5th Conference of Central Government Counsel of Southern States of India' held in Bangalore on Saturday. Speaking about the empowerment of women and reservation for women, Justice Sundresh said that it is his personal view that women's reservation should "no longer be considered as a special or horizontal reservation, but has to be a vertical one".

Many Courts have held that reservations for women can only be horizontal while only social reservations can be vertical.

Quoting Swami Vivekananda, he said, "Just as a bird cannot fly with a wing alone, a Nation cannot march forward leaving the women behind. It can only happen at the cost of the entire Nation. We know that we do not have adequate representation of women in the higher Judiciary." He said that the lack of women in the Judiciary is a consequence of what happened thirty years earlier.

He said that while he was in law college, there were only one or two female students for every ten male students. He added that today there is a transformation in the making and that many states have adequate representation of women in the lower judiciary.

He narrated a story in the life of the late Justice Leila Seth, the first woman judge of the Delhi High Court. One day there was a huge gathering of visitors to observe her Court proceedings. She asked her Court Master to find out what is happening, and he told her "these are all farmers coming from the village at the request of the minister to visit Delhi, first they visited the zoo and next they are here to see the proceedings being conducted by women judge".

He narrated incidents from the lives of US Supreme Court Judges, Sonia Sotomayor and late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

He said that the judiciary would certainly be empowered with the active participation of women. He said that though there were not many women lawyers earlier, a change is happening. He said that in many states today, more than 50 % of posts in the lower judiciary are being filled up by lady lawyers.

"Being a part of the Apex Court, I also feel that even Courts will have to change. Understanding of Article 15 by segregating from Article 16 when it comes to women's reservation has to change. It is my personal view that it shall be no longer considered as a special or horizontal reservation, but has to be a vertical one", he said.

Use of Regional Languages In Judiciary

While reflecting on the issue of the use of regional languages in the judiciary, he said that unless we use the local language extensively, the faith in the system will not be enhanced. He said that the local language must be introduced in the High Courts and that without removing English completely, a choice must be given to the litigants and the lawyers.

He said that he studied in his mother tongue till the tenth standard. "Now I am before you as a Judge of the Supreme Court", he added.

"I believe honestly that this colonial mindset will have to change. English is just a medium of expression. It has got nothing to do with knowledge. A person should not be called an intellectual just because he is able to converse well in English. We have seen in our own lives that there are remarkable thinkers having original ideas, even in our own field, who may not be well-versed in English language", he said.

He ended his speech by quoting an old saying in oil-rich countries, "If you cannot strike within half an hour, stop boring".

The full event can be viewed here.