Women Make Up Only 29% of Judges in India: Report
Women make up only 29% of judges in India, according to the India Justice Report 2020, an initiative of Tata Trusts in collaboration with various centers of social justice, legal policy, and human rights. Four states — Bihar, Uttarakhand, Tripura, and Meghalaya — have no woman judges at all in their high courts.
The report highlights the deep lack of diversity among India’s criminal justice system, finding Karnataka to be the only state meeting its SC, ST, and OBC quotas for its police officer cadre, and Karnataka and Chhattisgarh the only states to meet diversity requirements for their constabulary.
The report analysed expenditure, vacancies, representation of women and members of SC, ST, and Other Backward Classes, across 18 large- and mid-sized states and eight smaller states across 14 months. The data on the police, prisons, legal aid, and the judiciary the report brings together provides strong evidence that the whole system requires urgent repair.
The system also suffers from a lack of care towards the people who pass through it, the report concludes. In the last 25 years, since 1995, only 1.5 crore people have received legal aid, though many more require and are entitled to it. Nationally, cases remain pending for at least two years before trial. Two-thirds of India’s prisoners are yet to be convicted.
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While the pandemic had highlighted the need for speedier incorporation of technology into the justice system, on average, less than half of the states had equipped most of their jails with video-conferencing facilities. However, the increasing use of technology without rigorous monitoring and evaluation of its functioning raises questions on its impact on the fair trial of the accused, it said.
States also showed little desire to increase expenditure on prisons, the report said.
There should be an increase in the availability of justice services for reducing the present disparity in accessing justice that exists between rural and urban populations, the report suggested. “Fill vacancies on an urgent footing,” said the report. “When filling vacancies (and otherwise), ensure that the representation of underrepresented groups such as women, SCs, OBCs, STs, and religious minorities is increased to assure that the make-up of the justice system reflects the diversity of the society it is.”