The Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association (SCWLA) has moved the Apex Court seeking fair representation of women among high court judges and cited their deplorable low presence in constitutional courts.
Complaining about poor representation of women in the higher judiciary, SCWLA complained about an “abysmally low” 11.04 percent share of women as judges in the higher judiciary.
In an application filed through lawyer Sneha Kalita, the Association also gave the chart of women judges presently posted in various high courts in the country and sought the Top Court’s permission to be made a party in a pending case on the issue. They said the Madras High Court with 13 female judges had the distinction of having the highest number of women judges.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde has been hearing a case titled M/s PLR Projects Pvt Ltd V. Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd in which the Supreme Court is considering the issue of unfilled vacancies of High Court judge posts. The SCWLA has sought to intervene in the matter.
The Plea placed reliance on the farewell speech delivered by Justice Indu Malhotra wherein the former judge had spoken about gender parity and how women have to balance their professional duties and domestic responsibilities.
Referring to Articles 14 and 15(3) of the Constitution, the SCWLA states that the higher judiciary should have adequate representation for women after giving due weightage for their merit.
The Petitioner also cited the speech by Attorney General for India (AG) KK Venugopal was in which the AG has highlighted that there had been no woman Chief Justice of India in the history of the Apex Court.
The association said in the US, women state judges numbered 6,056 of the total 17,778 judges (34%) and the International Court of Justice had three women among its 15 judges.
“In the largest democracy where the female-male ratio is still a debatable issue, women need to be protected from female foeticide, assault, domestic violence, trafficking, matrimonial disputes and women’s right to property and so many other female-oriented issues. Thus, a larger representation of women would further advance the cause of justice in this regard as well,”
-the plea said.
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In the Petition it was also pointed out of 25 High Courts, five High Courts namely Manipur High Court, Meghalaya High Court, Patna High Court, Tripura High Court, and Uttarakhand High Court did not have a single woman judge as of date.
The Petition said that
“Improving the representation of women could also go a long way towards a more balanced and empathetic approach in cases involving sexual violence.”
Earlier, the Supreme court on March 25, had said the Centre should respond to its collegium recommendations within a reasonable time frame and favored the appointment of ad-hoc judges in the high courts to reduce the pendency of cases in the judiciary.