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Women in Judiciary:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Appointments to various constitutional posts.

 

Context:

Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana has dubbed it “unfortunate” that only 17 of 37 women recommended by the Supreme Court collegium were appointed as judges in high courts while the rest still remain pending with the government.

 

Suggestions made by the CJI:

  • The appointment of women judges should not be reduced to a mere “symbolic” gesture.
  • Women judges add rich experience and bring to the table a nuanced understanding of the differing impacts that certain laws may have on both men and women.

 

Status of women in Indian judiciary:

  • In the 71 years of history of the SC, there have been only 11 women judges (Source: Wikipedia) — the first was Justice Fathima Beevi, who was elevated to the bench after a long gap of 39 years from the date of establishment of the SC.
  • The 25 high courts in the states have 81 women among 677 judges – five of them do not have a single female judge.

 

Benefits of diversity and gender representation in Supreme court:

  1. Increased Transparency, inclusiveness, and representation.
  2. By their mere presence, women judges enhance the legitimacy of courts, sending a powerful signal that they are open and accessible to those who seek recourse to justice.
  3. By elucidating how laws and rulings can be based on gender stereotypes, or how they might have a different impact on women and men, a gender perspective enhances the fairness of the adjudication.
  4. Women judges bring those lived experiences to their judicial actions, experiences that tend toward a more comprehensive and empathetic perspective.
  5. Improving the representation of women could go a long way towards a more balanced and empathetic approach in cases involving sexual violence.

 

Challenges to women’s entry into judiciary:

The eligibility criteria to take the entrance exams:

  • Lawyers need to have seven years of continuous legal practice and be in the age bracket of 35-45.
  • This is a disadvantage for women as many are married by this age.

Further, the long and inflexible work hours in law, combined with familial responsibilities, force many women to drop out of practice and they fail to meet the requirement of continuous practice.

 

Insta Curious:

Did you know that the Supreme Court currently has the highest number of women judges ever in its history? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is collegium?
  2. How are Judges of Supreme Court and high courts appointed?
  3. Appointment of retired judges.
  4. Related constitutional provisions.
  5. Powers and functions.

Mains Link:

Discuss the issues associated with collegium system for the appointment of judges.

Sources: the Hindu.