SC considers Madras HC report, closes hearing on plea alleging lack of toilets for women lawyers in Ooty court

The Supreme Court Monday took note of a report of the Madras High Court and closed the hearing on a petition by the Women’s Lawyers Association of Nilgiris (WLAN) about the lack of toilet facilities for women in a court complex in Tamil Nadu’s Ooty.

“The Madras High Court has got the bad name for all this,” a bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha said while noting toilets for women lawyers were available in the district court complex in the hill town.

The observations were made after the bench perused the report filed by the registrar general of the Madras High Court giving details of the facilities available in the court complex.

The high court registry had filed the report after the petition was moved in the apex court.

On June 12, the top court had listed the plea for hearing after the summer vacation, having recorded the submissions of the WLAN’s counsel that their grievances have been addressed.

It had earlier directed the Madras High Court registry to file a detailed report on the measures taken by it to address the lack of toilets for women lawyers at a recently inaugurated combined court complex in Ooty.

On June 9, the apex court said an earlier report of the high court’s registrar general did not explain in detail about the facilities for women lawyers in the new court complex and as to whether there was any shrinkage of such facilities that were available earlier.

National Commission for Women (NCW) Chairperson Rekha Sharma had written to the registrar general of the Madras High Court on June 7 seeking information about the measures taken to address the issue.

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The NCW, in its letter to the high court, had said the new court complex, which was inaugurated in June 2022 and boasts of several amenities, shockingly lacks a designated toilet that women lawyers can access.

“This oversight has left women lawyers in an uncomfortable and undignified position, having to struggle with basic sanitation needs while performing their professional duties. It is disheartening to learn that the women lawyers in Nilgiris have been demanding a toilet in the court complex for the past 25 years without any resolution.

“This prolonged neglect of their legitimate and basic requirement is not only a violation of their rights, but also hinders their ability to carry out their legal responsibilities effectively,” the NCW had said in its letter to the high court.

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