Gender Justice and Judiciary

In a recent interview, the CJI said, with regard to poor representation of women in Higher Judiciary: “We have to look for talent and not equal representation for gender, caste or creed,”. He said this in response to a question whether there was a chance of a woman getting a berth in the three vacancies in the apex court. His answer, (I wish I am wrong in interpreting him the way I do) suggested as though there were no competent women candidates who could be considered for Judgeships in Higher Judiciary. The fact that there have been just three women Judges in the Supreme Court so far must be a matter of concern, and there has been no serious effort to understand the underlying reaons for this gender imbalance, which some consider as shameful. The President Pratibha Patil, while inaugurating the National Conference of Lady Lawyers recently, referred to this poor representation in passing, without indicating what her answers would be. If there is a quota for women in higher judiciary, without relaxing the criteria for appointment, is it difficult to find right women for the job?

UPDATE: In this Mint story, some former women Judges voice their opposition to the quota proposal.

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  • Section 174 (2) of the South African Constitution – The need for the judiciary to reflect broadly the racial and gender composition of South Africa must be considered when judicial officers are appointed.

    The provision imposes an obligation to secure diversity in the judiciary, without imposing quotas. Might be interesting to see how it has worked in South Africa.

  • Judicial Appointment Commission (JAC), an independent body has been launched on 3rd April 2006,under Constitutional Reforms Act’2005 has the responsibility of judges for appointment. It’s chairperson Ms. Usha Prasher of African origin insightfully said that ‘diversity is not antithetical to merit’…The ill conceptualisation of gender cocerns by offering the facile logic of ‘merit’ further accentuates towards the fact that the ‘Brotherhood of men’ need to be thwarted at the apex juridical level.
    It’s not about reservation but about equal representation which is the cornerstone of any democratic nation. Tarunabh’s invocation of sec. 174(2) of the post- apartheid South African Constitution further betokens the fact that ‘merit’ of those is increasingly open to question who hae such a parochial view of the concept of ‘merit’!