“The Problem of Gender Representation in Higher Judiciary”

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The Indian judiciary is plagued by a plagiarized mindset with interpretation being regressive and insensitive again towards women. It is necessary to take steps to inculcate gender sensitivity so that it can treat others equally regardless of any differences.

The legal fraternity is suffering from gender-biased situations women are not able to showcase their talent  Neither they are allowed to hold the higher position of a judge because of the orthodox mindset of society.T he revolution has come and we have started to acquire 5g technology but unfortunately, no technology or schemes has been effective in matters of women . The ladies are still facing problems in higher judiciary. Till now the presence of women’s in higher judiciary is low.

There are  very few women’s represented in  higher judiciary.In 1959 Anna chandy  became the first women judge this boosted the confidence of many females to pursue their career in legal fraternity .There was a hope that this step of Indian judiciary will bridge a pathway for women’s in this male dominated profession. But things never happened the way it was expected .It took another 30 years to bring the women judge justice Fatima Devi   and since then time kept passing and only 7 women has been encountered as a judge of apex court. The inadequate representation of women in judiciary still sustains.

On September  2021  first time people encountered nine judges taking oath at once and out of nine three are women judges   Justices Hima Kohli, BV Nagarathna and Bela M Trivedi.

This event is much appreciated by people across the country but at the same time it also showed how women are still facing challenges to enter in judiciary. India might get its first women chief justice in 2027. There are twenty five high courts out of which only Madras High Court has thirteen women judges which is equivalent to 22% of women representation in judiciary in comparison of other states .The states like Tripura, Patna , Meghalaya, Manipur and Uttarakhand  , Jammu & Kashmir do not have a single women judge. Recently Ministry of Law and justice shared the data which clearly shows out of 677 sitting judges only 81 are women .The women’s representation in judiciary is pathetic. Seats go vacant but women’s are not appointed on those vacant seats till September 2021, 1,098 seats for judiciary was expected to be filled but 465 remained vacant.

The chief justice of India recently said Women’s should ask for 50% reservation as a matter of right not charity”.  This bold statement gained appreciation and depicts the urgency of women representation in judiciary. The current scenario of is only 30% women judges are  handling both civil and criminal matter  remaining 70% matters are being covered by male judges who also look after  the female molestation, Rape, sexual harassment cases . Sadly they can never feel the mental agony of  woman victims .The urgency is not focused on filling up the vacant seats rather when women will be appointed as a judge they can address matters of violence against women. India is a diverse country where people of different caste, community, religion stays together. Judiciary isn’t new in this picture  various initiative are being taken by government for the  upliftment of society on different matters similarly  women’s and minority’s also required to be equally represented in judiciary .Reservation will play vital role for strengthening the weaker part of gender discrimination in judiciary. Empowerment of women   has always been a debatable topic form years and years. But even after 72 years of independence women are still not empowered .The Gender discrimination exists.

Hurdles of woman prior joining legal system              

In today’s world women’s are victim of multiple crime the increase in population is increasing the crime rates against women in every aspect.  The discrimination against women doesn’t lies only at a specific point but at their early age they start facing such situations from getting married to have a forced sexual relation they are always deprived from their rights. They are not allowed to pursue their career. Since Independence women’s are discriminated on various grounds and the battle to uplift them among this whole ado is still a herculean task. Due to burden of marriage they have to sacrifice their wishes the responsibility of the family lies on her shoulder they are only allowed to be a housewife and perform the household chorus. Legal fraternity  doesn’t provide any age criteria for study of law .The remarkable nature of legal studies always encourages women’s to pursue their career after marriage as an Advocate ,Public Prosecutor  or Judge .The judiciary is consider as a decent and  noble profession t so women’s mostly focus to attaining the  honor of being a judge. But the society keep their path challenging. Once they start pursuing their legal studies in between the studies they are told not to join this male dominating profession. It is true this profession have a large number of men in comparisons to women’s the presence of ladies in bar is not even equivalent to 50% .They are considered to be less talented than men for court cases. The myth is they can never fight like a male advocates .Another challenge is sexual harassment, Molestation, mental crueltyand bullying. The case of Vaisakha v. State of Rajasthan brought justice toward female’s resultant Prevention of sexual offences at workplace act came. The POSH act ensured safety to each women of the country at workplace. The women still faces this problem at bar .It is difficult to be an advocate at early stage of practice some take time to establish their practice in this tough or may be an easy process they go through a lot. They are discriminated o  the ground of being a women .In the case of C.B muttha  the court ,made it clear that promotion of a women can’t be denied because she is a women .She deserves equality against men. The constitution has enshrined the citizens with Article 14 : Right to equality and Article 15: prevention against discrimination .The agenda is to establish equality and boycott discrimination so that a women can feel security against any profession or anywhere they can feel protected.

The current situation of Woman in higher judiciary                                        

When a judge is a woman she has to go through circumstances only because she is a woman an instance of Delhi recently proved my words. When a women judge was remarked ‘sexiest’ by a male lawyer later she filed a complaint against the lawyer but the chief judicial magistrate asked her to withdraw the complaint. In judiciary the appointment of women’s are not frequent and adequate still the males are appointed in comparisons to females but the problem is not only discrimination .The women’s enrollment at bar council is low. After enrollment very few chooses to practice. They were more attracted with the policy of judiciary .Recently government tries pitting a three year practice as an advocate  for being first class magistrate .This news dishearten many ladies. The chunk of women focus on judiciary preparation but this sudden new made them realize the struggle is on. The criteria to be a high court judge is already difficult an advocate needs to practice for minimum five years and the process of being a supreme court is even more difficult than high court .This ask time and patience. Recently India created history with the appointment of  three women judges at supreme court prior only one women judge R bhanumati was there competing with other 25  male judges. There are 8 states having no female judge at all. Though sufficient name came forward in the collegium system but only 2 or 3 are appointed at the mercy of panel members.  The higher judiciary has been criticized for ‘Nepotism” and “hypocrisy” by none other than the judiciary itself .It took four decade after the establishment of Supreme Court to get their first women judge. Only in 2018 a women judge was directly appointed as a Supreme Court judge. It is interesting to note in two decade India got its Women Prime Minister but even in six decade we failed to get our first women chief justice. Therefore there have never an initiative taken forward to understand what contribution a female judge can bring to judiciary .The females are still stuck in contesting against women there no gender neutrality is set up.

The woman Advocates and their hardship

Women’s are expected not to be rude and aggressive. But on the other hand their rights are curtailed. There is not even a single women appointed as a chairperson or vice president of Bar council of India. The women who aspires to be advocate dropouts from the ladder in between the process.  There are few who muster  the courage to join legal studies .once they join they develop self-doubting nature because of the surrounding and few dares to get them enrolled .After enrollment few are allowed to practice and few renounce the practice  on the middle due the abrogate behavior of male lawyers’ at the bar. So accordingly the population of women layers starts falling from law schools and those who stood till the end are not allowed to be a judge only because they are considered less capable than male in decision making.  Women’s lawyers start facing problem prior entering the bar Chief Justice AP Shah once said he recommended a women to be a judge but she was rejected on the basis of her behavior.It was said she is rude “this word was enough to reject her name .Other side male judge are arrogant but still they are accepted with open minds. Omens also deals with patronizing men’s .Women lawyers thinks twice before standing for election  once they made up the mind they face harsh behavior of seniors and her opponents .Election  need money and networking  but the male dominated networks fails to accept women in a powerful position. The ideology is women are better at home not at workplace still exists in the dirty minds of male. Rather than providing a helping hand for their upliftment in society they are busy in denigrating her abilities .Being a mother drops her chances of representation good cases. Once she enters n motherhood the case starts decreasing. The main reason is the Bar, The Bar has failed to provide a comfortable atmosphere for women to survive in this profession.Court needs to understand that it is the need of hour to put extra efforts to make the ladies feel protective at bar . When adequate women starts practicing then only sufficient women judges will come forward in legal system. The small number of practicing female advocates lead to a less chances of females becoming a judge. Recently the women advocates of Bombay high court wrote Kiren Rijiju the union law minister to grant reservation of seats for women advocates in bar council and state bar council of India. They also requested to amend the laws of Advocates act 1961 and come with better law to safeguard the rights of women advocates. Despite being committed, dedicated and honest towards their work the male-dominated space isn’t allowing them to come in picture .So it can be a better decision from women advocates this will reestablish the lost faith of woman’s on judicial system. Currently, the ratio representation of women against male in state bar are extremely less for instance Andhra Pradesh 1:25, Kerala 0:26, Jharkhand 1:24 ,  Uttarakhand: 0:21.

This data of different state has been recently collected by ministry to have in death analysis of women’s n legal fraternity. In the current era massive race is to join the corporate or banking sector for women advocate or even big law firm to continue with documentation work because of their inability to break the glass ceiling.

Ending  gender Discrimination

The diversity in higher judiciary is that the most urgent matter asking to be addressed smoothly and vehemently. “GENDER” often comes in deciding and particular gender is taken into account to be more efficient empowered in rendering justice. Actually “TRUTH” doesn’t ask Man or Women to deliver justice .Hence the character or characteristic cannot be considered as a discriminate women  from  judgeship .By the virtue of God  Women are creator of earth they hold  family responsibilities but her this nature doesn’t make her less capable than a man .They are soft, vulnerable at time sensitive  these characteristics can be find in any human .Till date it is explained and highlighted by many judges, judicial scholars and writers A women can bring more loreal to higher judiciary. Their presence will reflect India as a robust democratic country .Their presence in higher judiciary will observe struggles of many other women’s .Their observation skill will motivate other women to join and complete their shattered dreams. Being a judge they can create a history by solving the existing mystery of women’s inadequate representation in legal fraternity .Their phenomenal judgment can wash away the deep stain which they carried on their womanhood for decades. The main agenda of judiciary was always to be fair and impartial the adequate representation of women judges will fulfill the motive of judiciary simultaneously trigger the youths to affix this reputed profession .Since discrimination could be  part of women life a women judge will be more likely to handle gender related issues with much ease. There will be a healthy environment for girl victims  for raising their issue  .Her presence will refrain the women advocates to hear those shameful remarks also it will be a plan  for women advocates to figure more diligently and one fine day become a judge.

From decades the matter of faith for Religion, Minority, and Caste backwardness has been dealt by judiciary and this problem has been resolved quickly with deep analysis providing relief to those communities. The sole thing left was Indian judiciary and the underrated representation of women. one cannot deny definitely the facts that within the Delhi gang rape case 2012  the presence of women judge brought more realistic approach to the case Therefore the system should implement :” legal quotas” or “ women’s quota” in lower judiciary pattern to encourage fresh law  women graduates to acquire this position. Though there are not sufficient women judges but digging the history only brought forward applauds for women judges. In the case of A jayachamdra v Aneel justice Ruma Pal explained the understanding of “CRUELTY” by delivering a brilliant judgment. Justice Indu Malhotra is another name that recently appeared for sabrimala case her brave step allowed both men and women’s to visit sabrimala temple. In her another famous case of Joseph shine v Union of India  adultery was decriminalized  .These are significant examples to establish  a women judge can do wonders .Being a women doesn’t limit her critical thinking and capability to render justice .They are equal like men’s and in every aspect  of life. Women’s indirectly empower men’s  with their nature but things have changed in last few years .Women’s are empowered but real empowerment is still not attained and struggling. The key factor like social, economic and family problems needs to eradicate by empowering the ladies with education and good opportunities. More number of fine schemes must come out in order so that the ladies can put their faith in legal fraternity and  yet again a brand  new changing era eradicates the gender disparity among men and ladies  by treating them equal.

Author: VARSHA RANI,BHARTI VIDYAPEETH DEEMED TO BE UNIVERSITY, NEW LAW COLLEGE, PUNE

Editor: Kanishka VaishSenior Editor, LexLife India

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