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Indira Jaising to law min: Can women be on govt lit panels only with godmothers?

India’s first woman additional solicitor general Indira Jaising wrote to the law minister Ashwini Kumar criticising the government’s decision to drop several “competent” woman lawyers from the panel of advocates for handling government litigation in the Supreme Court.

She also wrote to chief justice of India Altamas Kabir requesting for the provision of crèche facilities in the Supreme Court for the toddlers of practicing women lawyers.

Excerpts from Jaising’s letter to Kumar:

This can only send a very wrong message to the (legal) profession as a whole and to women in particular that there is no place for them in the profession. Even otherwise, the perception among people is that only those with powerful godfathers or godmothers (of which there may be very few) can progress in the profession

Several women I know who have assisted me competently have been dropped from the panels with no notice or appreciable reason

I recognize that 'merit' and 'competence' must be the guiding principles in making appointments and selection, but it is a matter of common knowledge that 'merit' itself is not a neutral word but a social construct, which tends to entrench the privilege of the privileged. [TOI]

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