President Pratibha Patil has asked the Law Ministry to explore the possibility of appointing a woman Supreme Court judge. Sources say that the President's proposal has been received favourably by the Law Ministry, which is mulling the names of several women judges in the High Courts, senior-most of whom is Chief Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra [pictured] of the Jharkhand High Court.
India's first woman President, Pratibha Patil, has asked the Law Ministry to explore the possibility of appointing a woman Supreme Court judge. Sources say that the President's proposal has been received favourably by the Law Ministry, which is mulling the names of several women judges in the High Courts.
This is not the first time that the President has pitched for women's representation in core areas of governance and law and order. The President has been a strong advocate of the Women's Reservation Bill and recently also addressed gender parity issues within the Indian military by recommending the commissioning of women pilots into the combat forces of the Indian Air Force.
The Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court, Gyan Sudha Mishra [pictured] is the senior-most of the four women judges under consideration for elevation. The others on the list include Justices Rekha Doshit of the Gujarat High Court, Ranjana P Desai of the Bombay High Court and T. Meena Kumari of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
The Supreme Court has seen only 3 women judges in the 59 years since its inception. Justice M. Fatima Beevi, who was recently awarded Sthree Vakil Puraskar, was the first woman judge in the Supreme Court, followed by Justices Sujata Manohar and Ruma Pal, who retired in 1999 and 2006 respectively.
The Supreme Court has a sanctioned strength of 31, and currently has strength of 27 judges. The appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts are made under Articles 124 and 217 of the Indian Constitution, respectively, and do not provide for reservation for any caste, class or person. It is therefore up to the collegium to make a conscious effort to see that women get adequate representation in the Indian judiciary.
Currently, the Delhi High Court has the highest representation of women in the judiciary, with 8 women judges, while the Bombay High Court comes a close second with 7 women judges.