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4/33: A small step for women in the judiciary, a giant leap for womankind

Thursday September 2, 2021, By Diversity Digest

In a boost to gender diversity in the judiciary, the Supreme Court now has four women judges.

Reported to be the highest in history, the newly appointed judges—Justice Hima Kohli, Justice Bela M Trivedi, and Justice BV Nagarathna- took oath in a ceremony on August 31, joining Justice Indira Banerjee, appointed in 2018.

From 2018 to 2020, the Apex Court had three women judges, including Justice Banerjee, Justice R Bhanumathi, and Indu Malhotra.

With four out of 33 being women, the question is: is that enough?

A longer wait for woman CJI

Each appointee has paved the way for more women to follow suit, indicating the opportunities for women in the highest office of the judiciary.

In 2027, Justice Nagarathna, daughter of Justice ES Venkataramiah, former CJI, might be the first woman Chief Justice of India, if she gets appointed as per seniority. She is known for her stand on social welfare throughout her stint so far.

Why we need more women judges?

With women juggling roles and doubling up, the experiences they bring to work are noteworthy. The lived experiences contribute to the decision and judgment they pass, as acknowledged by the International Association of Women Judges, with representatives from over 85 countries focused on gender perspectives in the judiciary.

Equal representation of women judges is an important goal— not only because it is a legitimate right but is also in the best interests of adjudication.

As with many fields, women’s representation in the judiciary has been low. A study in the past has indicated a few reasons– one being eligibility criteria as district judges. It pointed out that lawyers need to have seven years of continuous legal practice and be in the age bracket of 35-45- a phase when marriage, maternity, and raising children become crucial factors.

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