It took nearly 39 years for India to get a female Supreme Court judge. And by the time India obtains its first female Chief Justice, it will have served for 77 years as one of the three foundations of independent and democratic India. So it is past time that when nominating judges to the High Courts and the Supreme Court, women be given equal representation in the court. Women should be given preference in the higher judiciary. Female judges make up 27% of the lower courts, 12% of the High Courts, and just 4 of the 33 members of the Supreme Court.
As we move up the judiciary pyramid, we notice less female representatives.Out of the Supreme Court of India’s sanctioned strength of 34, it presently has four women judges-Justice Indira Banerjee, Justice Hima Kohli, Justice BV Nagarathna, and Justice Bela M Trivedi-the greatest number in the top court’s history.A woman has never been elected as India’s Chief Justice. Across the upper judiciary, the number is consistently low. Only 81 of the total 677 current judges in both the Supreme Court and high courts are women, according to data from the Union Ministry of Law and Justice.
This reduces the proportion of female judges in the entire working force to 12%. There are no sitting women judges in the High Courts of Manipur, Meghalaya, Patna, Tripura, Telangana, or Uttarakhand. In 1989, Justice M. Fathima Beevi of Kerala became the Supreme Court’s first female judge. She was succeeded in 1994 by Justice Sujata V. Manohar from Maharashtra, and in 2000 by Justice Ruma Pal from West Bengal.
Justice Gyan Sudha Misra of Bihar was appointed in 2010, and Justice Ranjana Desai of Bombay was appointed in 2014.For the first time in Indian history, three women judges were appointed to the Supreme Court. Among the three, BV Nagarathna has a chance to become the year’s first female CJI in 2027.
While it is difficult to specify why women are rarely selected to higher courts, there are a number of elements that influence the appointment. Many states have reserved seats for women in the lower courts. The Supreme Court and the several High Courts do not follow this reservation procedure. Women’s reservation quotas are one of the aspects that promote and make it easier for more women to enter the system.
In states where other supporting variables are present in sufficient quantity, the women’s quota aids in closing the gender representation gap. Because of the technique of recruiting through an entrance examination, more women tend to enter the lower judiciary at the entry-level. The upper courts uses a collegium structure, which is more opaque and hence more likely to reflect prejudice.
However, the problem of discrimination extends beyond the gender-biased design to other parts of the legal system. This involves dealing with the problem of gender prejudice on a daily basis, as well as workplace sexual harassment. A male lawyer reportedly sexually harassed a female Judge in Delhi in 2015, mocking her position and even threatening to sexually assault her. All of these variables, as well as others, contribute to a decrease in the number of women in litigation, which eventually leads to a decrease in the number of women judges in the higher court.
Women judges contribute considerably more to justice than merely enhancing its look; they also influence decision-making and, as a result, the quality of justice. They add their life experiences to court proceedings, which tend to be more compassionate and detailed. A gender perspective improves the fairness of the adjudication by demonstrating how laws might be founded on gender stereotypes and how they affect men and women differently. A shift in court culture might also have an impact on litigants.
A greater proportion of female judges may boost women’s willingness to seek justice and enforce their rights in court. To be diverse, the court must include judges who reflect not just multiple gender identities, but also different castes and religious backgrounds. There has never been a Dalit or Adivasi woman judge in the Supreme Court, for example.
Given that judges, regardless of their viewpoints, can move towards or away from feminist ideas, a compelling case can be made that gender discrimination should be abolished. The judiciary, which is an essential component of Indian democracy, need more female participation.In a country where women make up 48% of the population, the court system has fewer than 10% female judges, which is simply insufficient.