It is high time for women to be granted equal representation in the judiciary when judges are appointed to the High Courts and the Supreme Court. Women should be given priority in the higher judiciary. When comparing the higher and lesser judiciaries, we can see that whereas the lower judiciary has 27% female judges, the High Court has just 10%, and the Supreme Court has none at all. As we approach closer to the top of the judiciary pyramid, we see fewer women represented.
WOMEN REPRESENTATION IN THE JUDICIARY
- Out of a total of 27 judges in the Supreme Court of India, there is just one woman Judge.
- A woman has never been elected Chief Justice of India. Across the upper judiciary, the number is consistently low.
- There are just 80 women judges in the High Court and Supreme Court, out of a total of 1,113 Judges to date.
- Only two judges sit on the Supreme Court, with the remaining 78 serving in various High Courts, accounting for only 7.2 percent of the total number of judges.
- There are no women judges in the High Courts of Manipur, Meghalaya, Patna, Tripura, Telangana, and Uttarakhand.
- The first female judge to be appointed in the Supreme Court was Justice M. Fathima Beevi from Kerala in 1987.
WHY DO WOMEN STRUGGLE TO REACH HIGHER JUDICIARY LEVELS?
It’s difficult to determine why women aren’t nominated to higher courts; there is a multitude of factors at play. Several states include a reserve clause for women in the lower courts. This reservation method is not followed by the Supreme Court or the other High Courts. Women’s reservation quotas are one of the elements that encourage and facilitates the entry of more women into the system. The women’s quota helps to narrow the gender representation gap in states where other supportive elements are present in adequate amounts.
REQUIREMENT OF WOMEN JUDGE IN INDIAN JUDICIARY
Gender prejudice is predicted to decrease as more women enter the legal system. Women judges help to strengthen the credibility of the courts by conveying a powerful message that they are open and accessible to individuals in need of justice.
Women judges contribute considerably more to justice than merely improving its look; they also influence decision-making and, as a result, the justice’s quality. They contribute their life experiences to court decisions that favor a more compassionate and thorough approach. A gender perspective improves adjudication fairness by clarifying how laws might be founded on gender stereotypes and how they affect men and women differently.
A shift in court culture might have an impact on litigants as well. Women may be more inclined to seek justice and assert their rights in a court of law if there are more female judges. Judges from different gender identities, castes, and religious origins must be represented in the judiciary in order for it to be diverse. In the Supreme Court, for example, there has never been a Dalit or Adivasi woman judge.
Justice Leila Seth, the first woman judge in the Delhi High Court and a member of India’s 15th Law Commission, was instrumental in amending the Hindu Succession Act of 1956, ensuring the daughters’ right of succession over ancestral property. She was also a member of the Justice Verma Committee, which was formed in the aftermath of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case, and urged that sexual offenses be prosecuted quickly and harshly.
The eligibility condition for taking the entrance tests, according to the authors, is a serious hindrance to women’s recruitment as district judges. Lawyers must have seven years of continuous legal experience and be between the ages of 35 and 45. This is a disadvantage for women because, by this age, many are married.
Given that judges, regardless of their beliefs, can steer towards or away from feminist principles, a compelling argument can be made that gender discrimination must be abolished. Because the court is such an important component of Indian democracy, more women should be represented in it. For a country with a female population of 48 percent, the justice system has fewer than ten percent female judges, which is simply insufficient.