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  • 07 December, 2022

  • 6 Min Read

Women’s Representation in the Courts

Women’s Representation in the Courts

It was only the third time in the Supreme Court's history that a bench comprised entirely of female justices heard cases.

More on the news:

  • Apex Court's all-woman bench: Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud has appointed Justices Hima Kohli and Bela M Trivedi to the bench.
  • The Supreme Court had an all-woman bench for the first time in 2013, and the second time in 2018.
  • Women in the Supreme Court: Justice M Fatima Beevi was appointed as the Supreme Court's first woman judge in 1989, following her retirement as a judge of the Kerala High Court.
  • Since its inception, India has had only 11 female Supreme Court judges, with no female Chief Justice.
  • There are currently only three female judges on the Supreme Court: Justices Kohli, B V Nagarathna, and Trivedi.
  • In 2027, Justice Nagarathna will become the country's first female Chief Justice.

Women's Status in Indian Judiciary

Data on representation: High Courts:

  • Women make up 11.5% of the judges in the High Courts.
  • Only 17 of the 37 female candidates recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium for appointment as high court judges have been appointed thus far, with the remaining names pending with the central government.
  • So far, Collegium has recommended 192 candidates for the high courts.
  • Women made up 37 of these or 19 percent.

Subordinate Courts:

  • Approximately 30% of subordinate court judges are female.


  • Only 15% of the 1.7 million advocates are women.
  • Women make up only 2% of the elected representatives on state bar councils.
  • The Bar Council of India has no female members.

Women's Participation Challenges

  • Stereotypes and a lack of infrastructure: As previously stated by former Chief Justice Ramana, a lack of infrastructure, gender stereotypes, and social attitudes have hampered women's entry and advancement in the legal profession.
  • "Clients' preference for male advocates, an uncomfortable environment within courtrooms, a lack of infrastructure, crowded courtrooms, a lack of women's washrooms, and other factors all deter women from entering the profession."
  • According to the survey, nearly 22% of the 6,000 trial courts do not have women's restrooms.

Appointment structure dominated by men:

  • Currently, many women candidates deserve to be appointed as judges, but the main issue is the Supreme Court's male-dominated collegium structure.

Hostile Courtroom Climate:

  • The hostile and sexist environment at the highest courts makes professional advancement for female litigators extremely difficult.
  • Domestic responsibilities: Many women advocates have been offered judgeships in the past, but have all declined, citing domestic responsibilities.

The Importance of Women's Participation in the Judiciary

  • Diversification is necessary because it leads to positive institutional changes, and the judiciary should be more diverse.
  • Balanced justice system: The presence of women as judges and lawyers will significantly improve the justice system.
  • Balanced and compassionate approach: Improving women's representation in the judiciary could go a long way toward a more balanced and compassionate approach in cases involving sexual violence.
  • Gender sensitization has been raised numerous times, particularly in cases where male judges failed to show empathy for female victims.
  • Legitimacy: If the judiciary is viewed as a bastion of elitism, exclusivity, and privilege, it will not be trusted.
  • As a result, the presence of women is critical to the legitimacy of the judiciary.

Suggestions and future plans:

  • More in corporate than in decision-making: While women outnumber men in law school classrooms and are increasingly entering the corporate sector, their underrepresentation in decision-making institutions is appalling.

Suggestions from former Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana:

50% of the population:

The previous CJI also stated his support for 50% female representation in the judiciary.

Legal Education:

  • He has emphasized the importance of increasing gender diversity in legal education.
  • There should be a set number of seats reserved for female candidates in all law colleges and universities.
  • Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, and Rajasthan have benefited from such reservations, with 40-50% of judicial officers being women.

Obtaining basic facilities:

  • He stated that the need for basic facilities, particularly for women, must be addressed immediately.

A separate entity is required:

Enhancing transparency:

  • Improving transparency in the judicial system is required.
  • This will provide more opportunities for women to demonstrate their worth and level the playing field.


Source: The Indian Express

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