A Critical Analysis Over The Position Of Women In Higher Judiciary

Introduction

India gained its independence seven decades ago, but because of the gender-related social stigmas, discrimination is still the bitter truth present in all the professional fields. Talking about law, a male and a female judge having similar abilities and talent are still not treated equally. Gender discrimination is prevalent in India and women’s constituting only seven percent of the total strength of judges in all high courts of the country justifies that. The Supreme Court, also known as the Apex Court of the country, has only one female judge who is Justice Indira Banerjee, after the retirement of Justice Indu Malhotra in March 2021. The highest number of female judges that SC ever had was in 2018 when Justice Banerjee was appointed as the SC Judge. Adding to the shock, there has been no female Chief Justice of India appointed till now. The total strength of judges sanctioned in the SC and HCs is 1,114 out of which only 78 judges are women.[1] There are no women sitting judges in the High Courts of Meghalaya, Patna, Manipur, Tripura, and Uttarakhand. Recently, Chief Justice of India S A Bobde has also made an observation that many women are declining judgeship offer because of domestic responsibilities.

Importance of Women Judges

Judiciary is considered as the most important pillar of democracy and holds the responsibility of providing justice to each and every citizen of the country, irrespective of their gender, caste, colour, religion, etc. But it is very unfortunate that judiciary itself is a victim of gender discrimination and is not able to provide equal opportunities to the female professionals of law. Appointing women judges in the judiciary is very important as it is a right given to women to strengthen the system of judiciary and to uplift them. This issue of gender equality and the representation of women in public institutions like judiciary have also been addressed globally by the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2023 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Appointing a women judge sends a powerful message to the society about empowering women and helps in gaining public trust. The presence of women judges enhances the lawfulness of the court and brings their ground experiences into their judicial actions providing a more empathetic and comprehensive approach. Their presence also enlarges the scope of discussion as they bring different considerations that enhances adjudication, preventing taking improper or ill-considered decisions. They provide a gender perspective by analysing different laws and rulings and the impact they have on men and women which ensures the transparency of adjudication and benefits both genders. The inclusion of women increases their representation and provides more transparency to the judiciary and is considered a positive approach.

The Way Forward

Women comprise fifty percent of the total population in the world but still face gender discrimination irrespective of their fields. Although, the government has made laws for the upliftment of women in the society but it becomes more difficult when the system itself is affected by such discrimination. Therefore, it is the call of action to end the patriarchal societal stigmas and implement the thought of equality among the genders. Judiciary requires a greater representation of women at all levels and the Apex Court should take positive steps towards women regarding the power of appointment that it holds. Data can be maintained regarding the appointment of women judges in the judiciary to ensure fair representation of women. Also, a mandatory training program should be given to all the lawyers on gender equality and at least fifty percent of the presentation should be reserved for women in all leadership positions. The condition of women requires urgent attention and intervention from the courts that will bring more opportunities to them and ensure that they have a long way to go by providing a more empathetic and balanced perspective in various cases and hence improving their presence in the judiciary. The involvement of women in the judiciary will diverse the composition of the courtroom and will help in ending the old customary practices based on the behaviour of people from different sections of society. To provide a new light to the system, the long-established demographics have to be changed so the courts can adapt modernisation and are open to new reforms.


[1]Judges of the Supreme Court of India and the High Courts, https://doj.gov.in/sites/default/files/SCI-%26-HCs-

  1.04.2021.pdf (As of April 1, 2021).

By-

Satvik Garg

Amity Law School, Noida

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