From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not Much
Mains level : Women in Judiciary
Attorney-General has told the Supreme Court that more women judges in constitutional courts would certainly improve gender sensitivity in the judiciary.
Q.Women judges could bring a more comprehensive and empathetic perspective of gender sensitivity in the judiciary. Discuss.
Women in Judiciary: A dismal figure
- The Supreme Court has only two women judges as against a sanctioned strength of 34 judges.
- There has never been a female Chief Justice. This figure is consistently low across the higher judiciary.
- There are only 80 women judges out of the sanctioned strength of 1,113 judges in the High Courts and the Supreme Court.
- Only two of these 80 women judges are in the Supreme Court and the other 78 are in various High Courts, comprising only 7.2% of the number of judges.
- There are six High Courts — Manipur, Meghalaya, Patna, Tripura, Telangana, and Uttarakhand — where there are no sitting women judges.
A short timeline
- The first female Judge appointed in Supreme Court was Justice M. Fathima Beevi from Kerala in 1987.
- She was later followed by Justice Sujata V. Manohar from Maharashtra in 1994 and in the year 2000, Justice Ruma Pal was appointed from West Bengal.
- And in the year 2010, Justice Gyan Sudha Misra from Bihar was appointed.
- In 2014, Justice Ranjana Desai from Mumbai was appointed and currently, Justice R. Banumathi from Tamil Nadu is the only woman judge in Supreme Court.
(Note: This data might be useful for State PSCs or other exams. UPSC aspirants need not remember this.)
What did the A-G say?
- Improving the representation of women could go a long way towards a more balanced and empathetic approach in cases involving sexual violence.
- Judges need to be trained to place themselves in the shoes of the victim of sexual violence while passing orders, said the AG.
- There is a dearth of compulsory courses in gender sensitization in law schools.
- Certain law schools have the subject either as a specialization or as an elective.
Why need more women in Judiciary?
- The entry of women judges into spaces from which they had historically been excluded has been a positive step in the direction of judiciaries being perceived as being more transparent, inclusive, and representative.
- By their mere presence, women judges enhance the legitimacy of courts, sending a powerful signal that they are open and accessible to those who seek recourse to justice.
- They could contribute far more to justice than improving its appearance: they also contribute significantly to the quality of decision-making, and thus to the quality of justice itself.
- Women judges bring those lived experiences to their judicial actions, experiences that tend toward a more comprehensive and empathetic perspective.
- By elucidating how laws and rulings can be based on gender stereotypes, or how they might have a different impact on women and men, a gender perspective enhances the fairness of the adjudication.