Women’s scarcity in the Apex court
Why is the apex body delivering justice suffering inadequacy of woman? With its 70 years of its existence, a country still lacks a single woman chief justice and an adequate number of a female judge in the top court. Only eight women judge has been elevated to supreme court since independence which shows the judiciary more profound nature for men over women. The apex body of the country which delivers justice and the watchdog of Indian laws have an indifference ratio of male and female of being judge candidate in the top court.
Why it is so hard for a country with twenty-five High Courts but still serving with a 24:1 ratio of male and female respectively, delivering justice.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal noted that the Indian judiciary needed more woman judges to eliminate the “insensitive approach” of courts towards cases of sexual violence.
“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”
Past View of Top Court
The gender representation of the judiciary as a whole has a massive lag facing currently. This has been a trend for many years in the top court. Since its inception 70 years ago, only eight woman judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court. Justice Fathima Beevi was the first woman SC judge, and she was appointed in 1989, 40 years after its establishment.
Since 1989, only seven other women were appointed as judges of the Supreme Court — Justice Sujatha Manohar, Justice Ruma Pal, Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, Justice Banumathi, Justice Indu Malhotra, and Justice Indira Banerjee. Furthermore, only two woman judges — Justice Ruma Pal and Justice R. Banumathi — have been part of the top court’s collegiums, a high-powered body responsible for appointing judges to high courts (Print, 2020). Justice Indu Malhotra- 1st woman to be directly elevated from the bar to Supreme Court. According to research, there are 82 women judges out of 1079 total judges in twenty-five High Courts in India.
Blindfold Lady Justice
The statue of the woman of justice found in the courthouses represents Themis, the Greek Goddess of divine justice. The blindfolded woman indicates that when the judgment is pronounced in citizens’ welfare, the court is guided by only the evidence and law, not by the gender what the judge upholds. Justice prevails over gender.
There is a massive increase in the number of cases like rape, molestation, domestic violence, etc. It is said that the one who suffers knows the real pain. Only a woman knows the real pain and discrimination in inscribed injustice. When nine women lawyers seeking regulation of bail conditions in rape, molestation, and attempt to rape cases show that an immediate ordinance should be passed which can bring a change and have a stoppage to this injustice.
The immense number of females pursuing law and going to law school is equaled to males, but this number doesn’t come forward when it comes to senior advocates or judges.
Concerns Should Be by the Judiciary
The most précised convention for being a Chief Justice of India is seniority. When the seniority was breached in 1973 and 1977 during the emergency period by Mrs. Indira Gandhi appoints junior judge as Chief Justice by superseding their seniors. The Supreme Court collegiums should consider elevating a woman judge who can have tenure long enough to become the Chief Justice of India as per seniority convention.
The timely appointment of woman judges so that they have long tenures is the best solution. And for this purpose, the Supreme Court collegiums should take the initiative.
What Should Be Concluded?
A balanced ratio should be done to remove woman paucity in the apex court. This is a much-needed step toward the cause of women’s empowerment in the judiciary. According to Article 124(4) of the Indian constitution, the appointment of judges into the Supreme and High court lies in the hands President of India. If Pratibha Devisingh Patil can become the 1st and only female Head of the State since independence, why can’t a woman become Chief Justice of India?
If an independent lady like Mrs. Indira Gandhi can run a country and Hima Kholi’s only female Chief Justice serving in Telangana High Court can do so much, that should be considered in top courts. The amendments are made in the constitution to make it more reliable than it should happen in the judiciary as the 3rd pillar of democracy. There are lots of transformations and landmark judgment given by the apex court to uplift the benefit of common people but doesn’t go along with the court itself. An adequate combination or ratio of male and female should be brought in not only in Supreme Court but also in High Court to keep a vigorous strength of all the courts, which makes the judiciary the strongest pillar of democracy and when justice prevails.
This article has been authored by Akash Priye of KIIT University, School of Law, Bhubaneswar.