- Incessant talks of extending and accommodating gender equality in all spheres of life are such a common phenomenon that the topic no longer evokes neither strong sentiments nor animated discussions laying, even more, stronger emphasis urging the responsible concerned to act in right earnest. Of course, the sporadic rising of issues highlighting the increasingly negligent actions on the ground where genders are at par or on equal keel does get attention and headlines but fails to move beyond the usual inane mouthing of upholding the virtues of equality irrespective of genders.
- It would amount to unfair judgment to categorically deny nothing has moved on this front. Nonetheless, huge scope abounds to narrow down the disparity by acting purposefully and rationally though. As is the case with any number of fields, sectors, and occupations, the judiciary too is encumbered by the glaring disparity in female judges occupying the exalted positions in the higher echelons of the High Courts and Supreme Court. It is to be noted with great concern that nearly 100 years after women could become lawyers, representation of women among high court judges continues to be abysmally low in constitutional courts.
- The Supreme Court women lawyers association has approached the Apex Court to address the glaring anomaly vis-à-vis skewed representation favoring men over females. Astonishing to note that in the 71 years history of the functioning of the SC, only 08 of the 247 judges were women. Presently, alone women judge adorns the ranks of the highest judiciary. Keen followers of the current affairs would nod with an air of comprehension on the ongoing exchanges between the Supreme Court collegium and the Central Government over the appointment/clearance of judges’ names recommended for High Courts and Supreme Court, respectively.
PC: Sameer Datta
- The association has pointed out that out of the sanctioned strength of 1080 HC judges, only 661 were in place including 73 women constituting a mere 11% of HC judges. Most notably, there are no women judges in HCs in the states of Manipur, Meghalaya, Bihar, Tripura, and Uttarakhand. Only the Madras High Court has the highest 13 judges among the HCs. It is pertinent to mention that no less than the Attorney General had recommended appointing more women judges saying the ideal position would be to have women occupy 50% of judges post.
- The learned attorney made a valid point mentioning that improving the women’s representation in the judiciary would go a long way towards ensuring a more balanced and empathetic approach in cases involving sexual violence. It is a no-brainer to comprehend that higher representation of women judges in constitutional courts would act as a comprehensive measure towards gender justice as well as in the key task of justice dispensation. Most importantly, the judiciary can also send a loud and clear message to the society in walking the talk of ensuring gender equality by setting a worthy example fit for emulation. Many excel in rendering mere lip service rather than act concretely. The SC can lead the much-needed transformation here.