Only 73 out of 661 High Court judges, which is roughly 11.04% are women. Of the 256 Supreme Court judges appointed in the past 71 years, only 11 (or 4.2%) have been women. There has never been a women Chief Justice of India.
Greater representation of women in the judiciary, particularly the higher judiciary, can contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in multiple ways:
1. Promotion of Gender Equality: It sends a powerful message that women are just as capable as men in assuming leadership roles in the legal sphere, and can contribute to breaking gender stereotypes that can inhibit women’s advancement.
2. Enhanced Diverse Perspectives: Judges interpret laws, and their interpretations are inevitably influenced by their personal experiences. A judiciary that includes more women can bring diverse perspectives to the bench, which can lead to richer judicial discourse and more balanced and inclusive judgments.
3. Representation: Women constitute roughly half of India’s population, and it is crucial that they are adequately represented in the decision-making bodies of the country, including the judiciary. This can increase the sense of justice among the female population, as they see their gender represented in such crucial roles.
4. Empowerment: Greater female representation can inspire more women to pursue careers in the legal field. This can have a ripple effect, resulting in the empowerment of women in other areas of life as well.
5. Greater Sensitivity to Women’s Issues: A diverse judiciary that includes women may also lead to greater sensitivity to issues affecting women, which are often underrepresented or misunderstood.
6. Role Models: Female judges in higher courts can act as role models and inspire younger generations of women to aspire to positions of influence and authority.
Increasing the representation of women in the higher judiciary in India is a desirable and necessary step towards creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive society. It can contribute to more representative and sensitive jurisprudence and promote gender equality more broadly.