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WOMEN IN JUDICIARY

The Editorial covers GS paper 1 [Role of women and women's organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues, urbanization, their problems and their remedies.]

Women account for less than 28% of total judges in country | India News -  Times of India

Context

  • Stressing the need for greater gender sensitisation among members of the judiciary, Attorney General K K Venugopal said that “improving the representation of women in the judiciary could… go a long way towards a more balanced and empathetic approach in cases involving sexual violence”. 

  • Venugopal was replying to a plea questioning the bail conditions imposed by the Madhya Pradesh (MP) High Court wherein an accused was asked to get a Rakhi tied by the victim as a condition for enlargement on bail. 


What is the Background?

  • The petition filed by nine women lawyers led by Supreme Court advocate Aparna Bhat had cited orders from other High Courts to highlight the non-empathetic approach of judges while dealing with cases of sexual violence. 

  • Venugopal, in his written submissions, said judges need to be trained to place themselves in the shoes of the victim of sexual violence while passing orders. 

  • They need to assess the crime as if it had been committed on a member of their own family. 

  • He pointed to the dearth of compulsory courses in gender sensitization in law schools.

 

Why the figures show 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.

 

Why is there a need for more women?

  • 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.

 

Conclusion

  • 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.