SC to hear on Thursday, plea of lawyers' body for appointment of meritorious women as judges in HCs

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New Delhi, Apr 14 (PTI) The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Thursday a plea of women lawyers’ body seeking consideration of 'meritorious' lot among them for appointment as judges in high courts.

A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde will hear an application of the Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association (SCWLA), filed through lawyer Sneha Kalita, which has highlighted 'abysmally low' 11.04 per cent share of women as judges in higher judiciary.

The intervention application also gave the chart of women judges presently posted in various high courts in the country and sought apex court's permission to be made a party in a pending matter related to filling up of vacancies in the higher judiciary. “From the chart it is reflected that, from the 1,080 of sanctioned strength of judges (including both Permanent and Additional Judges) we have 661 number of judges out of which, only 73 number are women judges which accounts for a 11.04 of women judges,” the plea said.

It said “since independence till date, there have been only eight (08) women judges appointed in the Supreme Court out of a total 247 judges appointed from 1950 till as on date (2020)”.

The lawyers' body named all the eight judges, appointed so far in the apex court and said currently Justice Indira Banerjee is the only woman sitting judge in the Supreme Court.

It has sought a direction to “consider meritorious women lawyers practicing in Supreme Court and High Courts for appointment of judges in High Courts.” The plea has also sought a direction to the Centre to incorporate in Memorandum of procedures (MOP) the provisions and consideration of appointment of women judges in high courts.

“To issue an appropriate order/direction to the Secretary, Department of Justice, Ministry of Law & Justice, government of India to expedite the process of inclusion and appointment of women judges on meritorious ground to the respective Supreme Court and High Court Benches,” it said.

Referring to constitutional provisions on equality, the plea said the higher judiciary should have adequate representation for women after giving due weightage to the merit.

“The women's participation in the justice delivery system is an important factor for societal progress and gender equality…,” it said.

The plea referred to a speech of Attorney General K K Venugopal expressing concerns about the gender disparity in benches.

'Improving the representation of women could also go a long way towards a more balanced and empathetic approach in cases involving sexual violence', it said.

Earlier, the top court on March 25, had said the Centre should respond to its collegium recommendations within a reasonable time frame and favoured appointment of ad-hoc judges in the high courts to reduce the pendency of cases in the judiciary.

It had taken note of delay on part of the central government in acting on the collegium's recommendations and had asked Venugopal to make a statement regarding clearing of names recommended by the top court collegium.

On January 27, the top court had taken strong note of the delay on the part of the Central government in acting on the collegium's recommendations clearing names for appointment of judges in higher judiciary, saying “it is a matter of great concern”.

The apex court had then said that as on date 189 proposals on appointment of judges are pending and sought an update on the latest position from the government. PTI MNL SJK MNL RKS RKS