The Supreme Court admitted to decades of institutional disparity in appointing women as judges to the High Courts and the Supreme Court despite women practising as lawyers since 1922.



Justice J.S. Khehar, who heads a Constitution Bench looking into ways to improve the Collegium system of judicial appointments, said recently in no uncertain terms that “the ratio of female judges to male judges must be in the same ratio.”

This historic introspection on the negligible participation of women on the Bench was triggered by a written representation filed by the Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association, through senior advocate Mahalakshmi Pavani, advocates Sneha Kalita and Prerna Kumari, before the Bench.

Ms. Pavani submitted the apparent fact that lack of proper representation for women in the judiciary may raise questions of how gender bias is inherent in the very high temples of justice.

The representation said how since independence, there have been only six women judges appointed in the Supreme Court out of total 229 judges appointed from 1950 till date.

“The first female Judge appointed in Supreme Court was Justice M. Fathima Beevi from Kerala in 1987. She was later followed by Justice Sujata V. Manohar from Maharashtra in 1994 and in the year 2000, Justice Ruma Pal was appointed from West Bengal and in the year 2010, Justice Gyan Sudha Misra from Bihar. In 2014, Justice Ranjana Desai from Mumbai was appointed and currently Justice R. Banumathi from Tamil Nadu is the only woman Judge in Supreme Court,” the association said.

It said there are only 62 women Judges out of 611 (including Additional Judges) in the High Courts across the country.

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