Judicial Reforms

Need for diversity and propriety in judiciary

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Women Judges in the SC

Mains level : Paper 2- Issue of women representation in the judiciary in Inda

The article highlights the issue of women representation and its implications for the role of the judiciary.

Improving representation of women

  • Presently, the Supreme Court is left with only one woman judge, who is also going to retire next year, after which, the SC will be left without a woman judge.
  • The collegium failed to take timely steps to elevate more women judges in the SC.
  • In the 71 years of history of the SC, there have been only eight women judges — the first was Justice Fathima Beevi, who was elevated to the bench after a long gap of 39 years from the date of establishment of the SC.
  • In the submissions filed by the AG on the issue states that improving the representation of women in the judiciary could go a long way towards attaining a more balanced and empathetic approach in cases involving sexual violence.
  • The AG also brought up the fact that there has never been a woman Chief Justice of India (CJI).

Women representation in developed countries

  • The situation is not any different in developed countries such as the US, UK, Ireland, France and China.
  • According to the data collected by Smashboard, a New Delhi and Paris-based NGO, not only has no woman ever been appointed as the CJI, the representation of women across different courts and judicial bodies is also abysmally low.

Way forward

  • In the last few meetings of the collegium, there has been some talk of promoting women to the apex court.
  • In this regard, if Justice B V Nagaratha of the Karnataka High Court is elevated to the Supreme Court, she could become the first woman CJI in February 2027.
  • But her elevation will lead to the supersession of 32 senior judges.
  •  Supersession itself is perceived as a threat to an independent judiciary
  • Seniority combined with merit is the sacrosanct criteria for promotion in the judiciary.
  • New CJI should secure the trust of members of his collegium to fill the backlog of 411 vacancies across high courts and six vacancies in the SC.

Consider the question “What are the various structural issues faced by the judiciary in India? Suggest the measures to deal with them.”

Conclusion

A greater number of women in the Supreme Court would eventually lead to a woman CJI. This would be a gratifying change, which may mark the beginning of a new era of judicial appointments.

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