A parliamentary committee has informed that only 73 judges are women out of the 670 judges serving in various courts.
The government also pointed out that on March 23, 2018, a strength of 1,079 judges was sanctioned but there are still 409 vacancies as only 670 judges are working in 24 high courts.
The Department of Justice in the Law Ministry informed the department-related Standing Committee on Law and Personnel that “There are 73 women judges working in different high courts as on March 23, 2018, which in percentage terms is 10.89 percent of the working strength.”
The ministry responded to the concerns of the parliamentary panel on the inadequate representation of women and people from marginalised communities. The ministry informed that the Centre had been requesting chief justices of high courts that while sending proposals for appointment of judges, “due consideration” be given to “suitable candidates” belonging to SC, ST, and other backward classes, minorities and women.
The government said, “This is being done to ensure a fair representation of different sections of the society in the higher judiciary.”
However, it has come to clear that there was no proposal to change Articles 124 and 217 of the constitution to allow reservation in the higher judiciary.
“The committee feels that a timeline of six weeks given to chief minister/governor may be reduced to expedite the process of appointment of judges. It also feels since there is no proposal to raise the retirement age of judges in higher judiciary by the government, unnecessary delay in recruitment of judges should be avoided at any cost,” it said.
To recommend proposal received from the chief justice of the high court to appoint a candidate as a judge, Governors and Chief ministers are given six weeks. When the committee had prepared its report there were 24 high courts. From January 1, the number of high courts has gone up to 25 with Andhra Pradesh and Telangana getting separate high courts.