The Supreme Court recently got nine new judges. The highlight of the latest appointments was that three of the new judges were women. With this, the top court of the country now has the highest ever number of women judges – four out of 33.
However, a look beyond the celebration over the Supreme Court getting three women judges at one go and its bench strength featuring the highest number of women brings to one's notice the dismal number of women in the judiciary at all levels.
Even in the Supreme Court, the percentage of women judges stands at a paltry 12.12 per cent. The overall picture of the higher judiciary, which includes the Supreme Court and the high courts, the figures are not very different. Out of the 677 judges in the higher courts, only 81 are women, which works out to 11.96 per cent, as per the statistics updated by the Union ministry of law and justice on September 1.
In the high courts, out of the 644 judges, only 77 are women, which is again just about 12 per cent of the total number of sitting judges.
According to the second edition of the India Justice Report, brought out by the Tata Trusts earlier this year, the overall representation of women has improved in 20 states at the level of subordinate court judges. Over a two-year period, on an average, the share of women judges in the high courts increased marginally from 11 per cent to 13 per cent, while in subordinate courts, it went up from 28 per cent to 30 per cent.
As many as 12 high courts and 27 subordinate courts improved their share of women judges, according to the India Justice Report 2020. This means that while one in three judges in the subordinate courts is a woman, in the high courts, only one in nine judges is a woman. The figures demonstrate that the glass ceiling in the country's judicial system remains intact.
As per the report, the aspirations of gender parity in the justice system remains elusive. At the high end, women's inclusion remains in dismal single digits and so, patriarchy and its violent impacts remain unchallenged.