- Recently, the Chief Justice of India concerns about the lack of women among High Court judges.
- He made this remark while addressing an event on the occasion of the International Day of Women Judges (10th March).
International Day of Women Judges
- United Nations General Assembly Resolution 75/274 designated 10th March the International Day of Women Judges in 2021.
- India was among the nations that sponsored the resolution, which was moved by Qatar.
- The day aims to recognise the efforts and contributions being made by women judges.
- The day also empowers young women and girls who aspire to become judges and leaders in the community.
- Combating gender disparity in the judicial services will also help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.
- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
State of Women in Judiciary
- In high courts, the percentage of women judges is a mere 11.5%, while in the Supreme Court there are four sitting women judges out of 33 in office.
- The situation of women lawyers in the country is not any better. Out of 1.7 million advocates registered, only 15% are women.
- However, the higher judiciary has a collegium system, which has tended to be more opaque and, therefore, more likely to reflect bias.
- Recently, the Supreme Court Collegium recommended 192 candidates for the High Courts, out of these, 37, that is 19%, were women. But Unfortunately, so far only 17 of the 37 women recommended were appointed.
- No Women Reservation: Many states have a reservation policy for women in the lower judiciary, which is missing in the High Courts and Supreme Court.
- States such as Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Rajasthan have benefited from such reservation as they now have 40-50% women judicial officers.
- However, the Bill for giving 33% reservation to women in Parliament and state legislatures has not been passed till date, despite all major political parties publicly supporting it.
- Familial Responsibilities: Factors of age and family responsibilities also affect the elevation of women judges from the subordinate judicial services to the higher courts.
- Since lawyers elevated from the bar to the bench form a significant proportion of judges in the high courts and Supreme Court, it is worth noting that the number of women advocates is still low, reducing the pool from which women judges can be selected.
- Judicial infrastructure, or the lack of it, is another barrier to women in the profession.
- Small courtrooms which are crowded and cramped, absence of restrooms, and childcare facilities are all barriers.
Significance of High Women Representation
- Higher numbers, and greater visibility, of women judges can increase the willingness of women to seek justice and enforce their rights through the courts.
- Though not true in all cases, having a judge who is the same gender as litigant, can play a role in setting the litigant’s mind at ease.
- For instance, think of a transgender woman as a judge listening to the case of other trans women. That would inspire confidence in the litigant, as well.
- It is definitely valuable to have representation of various marginalities in the judiciary because of their different lived experiences.
- Diversity on the bench would definitely bring in alternative and inclusive perspectives to statutory interpretations.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT