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State PCS

Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. “Indian judicial system lacks inclusiveness and is mostly dominated by men”. In the light of this statement, discuss the issues related to women representation in judiciary and suggest measures to ensure inclusiveness of women in Judicial system. (250 words)

    06 Dec, 2022 GS Paper 2 Polity & Governance


    • Start your answer by briefly stating the present status of women representation in Judiciary.
    • Discuss the issues related to low representation of women in Judiciary.
    • Suggest some measures to increase women representation in Judiciary.
    • Conclude accordingly.


    • “Women of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your chain” former Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana.
    • In high courts, the percentage of women judges is a mere 11.5%, while in the Supreme Court there are four sitting women judges out of 33 in office.
    • The situation of women lawyers in the country is not any better. Out of 1.7 million advocates registered, only 15% are women.
    • Despite gaining Independence in 1947, India is yet to elect its first female Chief Justice of India in spite of the experience, educational qualifications and capabilities of women as Judges.


    • Issues related to low representation of women in Judiciary:
      • Patriarchy in Society: The primary reason for underrepresentation of women in judiciary is deeply ingrained patriarchy in society. Women often have to face hostile atmospheres within courtrooms. Harassment, lack of respect from members of the bar and bench, the silencing of their opinions, are some of the other traumatic experiences often recounted by many women lawyers.
      • Opaque Collegium System Functioning: More women tend to enter the lower judiciary at the entry level because of the method of recruitment through an entrance examination. However, the higher judiciary has a collegium system, which has tended to be opaquer and, therefore, more likely to reflect bias.
        • Recently, the Supreme Court Collegium recommended 192 candidates for the High Courts, out of these, 37, that is 19%, were women. But unfortunately, so far only 17 of the 37 women recommended were appointed.
      • No Women Reservation: Many states have a reservation policy for women in the lower judiciary, which is missing in the High Courts and Supreme Court.
        • States such as Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Rajasthan have benefited from such reservation as they now have 40-50% women judicial officers.
        • However, the Bill for giving 33% reservation to women in Parliament and state legislatures has not been passed till date, despite all major political parties publicly supporting it.
      • Familial Responsibilities: Factors of age and family responsibilities also affect the elevation of women judges from the subordinate judicial services to the higher courts.
      • Not Enough Women in Litigation: Since lawyers elevated from the bar to the bench form a significant proportion of judges in the high courts and Supreme Court, it is worth noting that the number of women advocates is still low, reducing the pool from which women judges can be selected.
      • Judicial Infrastructure: Judicial infrastructure, or the lack of it, is another barrier to women in the profession.
        • Small courtrooms which are crowded and cramped, absence of restrooms, and childcare facilities are all barriers.
      • No Serious Attempt: No serious attempt has been made during the past 70 years to give adequate representation to women either in the high courts or in the Supreme Court. In India, women constitute about 50% of the total population and a large number of women are available in the Bar and in the judicial services for elevation but, despite of that, the number of women judges is small.
    • Measures needed to increase women representation in Judiciary:
      • There is a need to maintain and promote Gender Diversity in Higher Judiciary with a fixed percentage of its members as women judges that will lead to the evolution of a gender-neutral judicial system of India.
      • There is a need to bring about institutional, social and behavioral change among India’s populace by sensitising and giving emphasis on inclusivity.


    Changing the long-established demographics of a court can make the institution more amenable to consider itself in a new light, and potentially lead to further modernization and reform. The legal profession, as a gatekeeper of equality and as an institution committed to the preservation of rights, should be emblematic of gender equality.

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