Judiciary open to have more women judges: Govt
Judiciary is open to the idea of having more women as judges but reservation is not envisaged for this purpose in the higher judiciary, the government said on Friday.
Responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said while the government has a limited role in appointing members to the higher judiciary, but "we are not helpless" and the Centre will keep sensitising the judiciary in regard to appointing more women.
Prasad said there was no provision for reservation in the higher judiciary and hence it is not envisaged. However, the government keeps sensitising about the need for representation of minorities, SCs, STs and women.
The Minister said there was a need to make "more" gender representation in the higher judiciary and it was not fair to say that Supreme Court judges are against gender justice.
"I have been minister thrice ...and I have interacted with them (senior judges), they are quite open to the idea," he said, adding that he would convey the concerns to senior judges on the issue.
He, however, said "there is a collegium system, where we have limited role. But as law minister, I continue to sensitise (about gender justice) in the appointment process."
Prasad was responding to a question raised by Congress member K Rahman Khan, who also sought to know if Parliament and the government are helpless on this issue.
The Minister made it clear that the government "was not helpless" and he was aware of the supremacy and sovereignty of Parliament.
He informed the House that there were 4704 women judiciary officers out of 16,443 in the subordinate courts in the country. Of these, 1,473 were appointed in the last three years, he added.
"About High Court, your point is well taken. There are 66 women judges in the entire High Courts in the country and only one Supreme Court judge. This point is very well taken," he said.
The Minister also said there was a very good number of women lawyers in the higher judiciary.
He said the appointment of judges for higher judiciary was made under Articles 124 and 217 of the Constitution. These articles do not provide reservation for any caste or class of persons.