The article 'An Overview of Women in Judiciary' is a thorough study of the discrimination faced by women in the legal field, even in the advanced and so-called modern society.

The article 'An Overview of Women in Judiciary' is a thorough study of the discrimination faced by women in the legal field, even in the advanced and so-called modern society.

Historically, women were not seen to be qualified for careers in law. Women entered this field of employment today as a result of the advancement of society over time. However, there are still too few women in the judiciary, especially at the higher levels of the system. This paradigm needs to alter. Judges have a significant role in the administration of justice and the creation of verdicts because court decisions have a broad and profound impact on social structures, social order, and persistent systemic inequities.

Judges' justifications and conclusions are a reflection of their thought processes and a window into their perceptions as they interpret and apply the law. This article highlights the status of the representation of women in the judiciary in India.

Introduction

How many female judges on the US Supreme Court would be adequate was a question that Ruth Bader Ginsberg was once asked. I would be happy when there are nine female judges on the US Supreme Court, she declared. That is also my opinion regarding women's empowerment specifically in the legal profession, as a young female law student.

Justice Shoba Eapen was recently named as a second judge on the Kerala High Court. The high court has written history in this case by having seven female judges out of a total of 38. Even while this news gives us a glimmer of hope, India still has a long way to go before it can designate female judges to its courts, especially in high courts and the Supreme Court, where they are pathetically underrepresented.

There is a 30% horizontal reservation for women in the lower judiciary in various Indian states. Interestingly, more than 30% of women are drawn to the lower courts in these states, indicating that they are being admitted based on merit. This data disproves some claims that there aren't enough female judges because they're not talented or skilled enough. The lack of women in the collegium of High Courts and the Supreme court, as well as their insufficient representation in these forums, are other factors that contribute to gender discrepancies in the judiciary.

Since we will continue to have the same individuals or value systems, categorically stated, changing the collegium structure would not solve the issue. For instance, a common misconception about how male and female lawyers should debate exists. She shouldn't be confrontational and should be polite and amenable to compromise. These pervasive double standards reveal prejudice.

It is important to note that there are few female advocates, which restricts the pool from which female judges can be selected in the High Court and Supreme Court, where an appointment is made through direct elevation from the bar to the bench. In addition, the criteria for judicial appointments in immediate elevation are outdated and biased towards women.

What is the status of Representation in:

Supreme Court

Several institutional and structural issues have limited women's representation in the courts. It is imperative to address this gap to provide fair access to justice. Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud has nominated Justices Hima Kohli and Bela M Trivedi to the bench. The Supreme Court had an all-female bench for the first time in 2013 and again in 2018.

Only three of the Supreme Court's 27 judges—out of a total of 34—are women. This illustrates how women are underrepresented in the legal system.

High Court

In the High Courts, there are 11.5% of female judges. Only 17 of the 37 women who the Supreme Court Collegium recommended for appointment as high court judges have actually received the position as of yet; the national government is currently vetting the remaining names.

For the high courts, Collegium has so far recommended 192 people. 37 of them in all, or 19%, were female.

Lower Courts:

In subordinate courts, there are about 30% of female judicial officers. The ratio varies from 19.5% in Gujarat to 70% in Goa. The proportion of women in the lower court was lower than the national average in 17 of the 36 States and UTs.

• Bar Council:

Only 2% of the elected members of the State Bar Councils are female. There are no female members of the Indian Bar Council. Only 15% of the 1.7 million advocates are female.

What causes the low number of female representatives?

1. Patriarchy in Society: The patriarchal nature of society is the main factor contributing to the underrepresentation of women in the judiciary.

Courtrooms frequently have unfriendly environments for women. Other traumatic experiences that are frequently related by many women lawyers include harassment, a lack of respect from the bar and the judiciary, and being told what to say and what not to say.

2. Workings of the Opaque Collegium System: Due to the manner of hiring through an entrance exam, more women tend to enter the lower courts at the entry-level.

However, the collegium system used by the upper judiciary has a history of being more opaque and consequently more prone to reveal prejudice.

3. No Women's Reservation: The High Courts and Supreme Court do not have reservation policies for women, which are common at lower levels of the judiciary in several states.

As a result of this reservation, states like Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, and Rajasthan currently have 40–50% female judicial officers.

4. Family Responsibilities: The promotion of female judges from the lower courts to the higher courts is also influenced by factors related to age and family obligations.

5. Not Enough Women in Litigation: Given that judges in the high courts and Supreme Court are largely comprised of lawyers who were elevated from the bar to the bench, it is essential to note that the number of women attorneys is still low, which limits the pool from which women judges can be chosen.

6. Judicial Infrastructure: The lack of judicial infrastructure is another obstacle that prevents women from entering the field of law.

Obstacles include small, crowded courtrooms and a lack of restrooms and childcare facilities.

Way ahead

  • A specific percentage of women judges in the higher judiciary must be maintained and promoted in order for India's judicial system to evolve into one that is gender-neutral.
  • By raising awareness and emphasising inclusivity, it is necessary to bring about institutional, social, and behavioural change among India's population.
  • The legal profession ought to be a symbol of gender equality because it is a guardian of equality and a profession dedicated to upholding rights.
  • A court may be more open to considering itself in a new perspective and more likely to undergo additional modernization and change if its long-standing demographics are altered.
  • The justice delivery system will be significantly improved by the participation of women judges and attorneys.
  • Women contribute a unique viewpoint to the law that is based on their experience.
  • They also have a more nuanced knowledge of how certain policies may affect men and women differently.
  • Women judges give courts more legitimacy by demonstrating to the public that they are open and welcoming to individuals seeking redress for wrongs.
  • To treat instances involving sexual abuse with balance and empathy, the judiciary needs more female representation.

Conclusion

There has been a steady improvement in the representation of women in the judiciary. But despite recent progress, sexism against women in the legal system still exists. To eliminate the bias and create a truly representative judiciary, institutional reforms and social transformation are both required.

Therefore, using language that is gender-neutral is essential for inclusivity and raising sensitivity. It is also necessary because it has the potential to correct the imbalance and positively support a narrative of women that is more inclusive and respectful. The ability to communicate multiple points of view through language ultimately contributes to more balanced thinking and inclusive reasoning. When women are fairly represented on the bench, all of this is achievable.

References

[1] The Importance of Women in the Judiciary to Integrate the Gender Perspective and Bring Equal Visibility, Available Here

[2] Women’s Representation in Judiciary – Explained, pointwise, Available Here

[3] Women's Share in Indian Judiciary, Available Here

Important Links

Law Library: Notes and Study Material for LLB, LLM, Judiciary, and Entrance Exams

Law Aspirants: Ultimate Test Prep Destination

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Ananya Kukreti

Ananya Kukreti

Ananya is currently pursuing law from Amity University, Noida. She has a strong inclination towards policy research and business laws.

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