The representation of women judges in Indian courts has seen a significant rise, from 27 per cent in 2018 to a promising 34.6 per cent in 2023, as per the Supreme Court’s ‘State of the Judiciary’ report.

That being said, the proportion remains low in the higher courts. The situation could be better, particularly in the Supreme Court of India, where just 3 of the 32 judges are women (9.4 per cent), as of December 2023. This was however at a lower 4 percent in 2018.

High courts

There has been a marginal increase in the representation of women judges in the High Courts in the last five years. In 2018, out of 696 judges in the HCs, women constituted only 10 per cent. However, by 2023, out of 737 total judges in the HCs, the proportion of women judges has risen to 13.4 per cent.

According to data from Lok Sabha, the HCs of Punjab & Haryana, Delhi, and Bombay have the highest number of women judges - 13, 10, and 9, respectively. The representation of women judges in HCs such as Orissa, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh is notably low, with only one woman judge in each of these state HCs. Patna, Uttarakhand, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Manipur have no women judges.

The situation is considerably better in subordinate courts. In 2018, 27.6 per cent of the judges in the country’s subordinate courts were women. By 2023, this number had grown to 36.3 per cent.

Tanvi Dubey, an independent practitioner at the Supreme Court of India, told businessline that including women and their representation in the judiciary is a very important area that must be addressed. “Diversity is essential for effective institutionalisation, bringing positivity and change. The judiciary must prioritise gender equality and foster a welcoming environment for women. Establishing core values of equality is crucial. While progress is evident, such as the presence of three women judges in the Supreme Court and recent instances of women’s representation in key judicial settings, further steps are necessary”, she said.