Discuss the desirability of greater representation to women in the higher judiciary to ensure diversity, equity and inclusiveness. UPSC 2021, 10 Marks

Q2. विविधता, समता और समावेशिता सुनिश्चित करने के लिए उच्बतर न्यायापालिका में हिलाओं के प्रतिनिधित्व को बढाने की वांछनीयता पर चर्चा कीजिए। (उत्तर 150 शब्दों में दीजिए)
Q2. Discuss the desirability of greater representation to women in the higher judiciary to ensure diversity, equity and inclusiveness. (Answer in 150 words) 10

Answer: The SC has only 2 women judges out of  34 seats reserved for women judges and there has never been a female Chief Justice of India (CJI). There are only 80 women judges out of the total sanctioned strength of 1,113 judges in the SC and the HCs. Of the 26 courts including the SC, the Punjab and Haryana HCs has the maximum strength of women judges (11 out of 85 judges) in the country, followed by the Madras HC (9 out of 75 judges). Both Delhi and Bombay HCs have 8 women judges. The HCs of Manipur, Meghalaya, Patna, Tripura, Telangana, and Uttarakhand, do not have any women in the sitting judges.

 Desirability of greater representation to women in the higher judiaciary to ensure diversity equity and inclusiveness because:

  • SDG 5 and SDG 16 in particular, address the global responsibility of having gender equality and women’s representation in public institutions such as the judiciary.
  •  Women judges strengthen the judiciary and help to gain the public’s trust.
  • The entry of women judges is a positive step in the direction of judiciaries  being more transparent, inclusive, and representative of the people whose lives they affect.
  • Women judges enhance the legitimacy of courts,  they are open and accessible to those who seek recourse to justice.
  • Women judges bring those lived experiences to their judicial actions, experiences that tend toward a more comprehensive and empathetic perspective.
  • Adjudication is enhanced by the presence of women who bring to the fore considerations that would not have been taken into account in their absence and the scope of the discussion is hence enlarged, possibly preventing ill-considered or improper decisions.
  • a gender perspective enhances the fairness of adjudication, which ultimately benefits both men and women.

Judicial orders should conform to certain judicial standards and necessary steps have to be taken to ensure that this does not happen in the future.The SC must direct the collection of data to determine the number of women judges in the lower judiciary and tribunals and also to determine the year-wise number of senior designates by all HCs. Greater representation of women should be ensured at all levels of the judiciary, including the SC and this initiative must come from the SC itself, considering that the power of appointment rests almost exclusively with the SC Collegium. The goal must be to achieve at least 50% representation of women in all leadership positions and there should be a mandatory training of all lawyers on gender sensitisation.

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