For democracy, in true sense, means equal opportunities and participation for all irrespective of gender religion or caste. Speaking about the gender inequality in Indian judiciary would be like stating the obvious. Currently, Justice R Bhanumathi is the only woman judge in the apex Court, against the working strength of 28 and sanctioned strength of 31. It’s ironical that despite having half of our population as women we have been able to send only six female judges to the supreme court since independence. What’s more baffling is that the highest court of the country saw it’s first woman judge in 1989. However, Women are gradually making their presence felt in different walks of life including Indian judiciary which has so far been largely male-dominated.
Recently, Justice Indira Banejee was given the chair of chief justice of Madras High Court. Justice Rohini is the chief justice of Delhi High Court, Justice Manjula Chellur that of Bombay High Court. Justice Nishita Nirmal Mhatre is the Acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court. It’s unprecedented in India’s history when four woman judges are heading the four major high courts of the country.
However, male dominance in judiciary is still rock solid, only some cracks have been made. As per the latest data (as on 29.3.2017) women comprise of only 10.86% of Indian judiciary. There are only 69 women judges of 652 total judges in 24 High Courts of India. While Bombay High Court leads the fray with a dozen women judges, Delhi comes a close second with 11 judges. Also there are eight high courts with no woman judge.
“There are 69 Women Judges working in different High Courts as on 29.3.2017, which in percentage terms is 10.86% of working strength,” Minister of State for Law and Justice P.P.Chaudhary said while responding to question on ‘reservation for women in Judiciary’.
” Appointment of Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts is made under Articles 124 and 217 of the Constitution of India respectively.These Articles do not provide for reservation for any caste or class of persons. There is no proposal to provide reservation for women in the appointment of High Court Judges.The Government has, however been requesting the Chief Justices of the High Courts that while sending proposals for appointment of Judges, due consideration be given to suitable candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backwarard Classes, Minorities and Women. The appointment of Judges in the Lower Judiciary is in the domain of State Governments,” he added.
It’s disheartening that woman still face discrimination at workplaces and even at home despite walking shoulder to shoulder with their male counterpart.