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70 Years Of Indian Judiciary | Opinion: Composition Terribly Skewed, Higher Levels Bastion Of Upper Caste Males

70 Years Of Indian Judiciary | Opinion: Composition Terribly Skewed, Higher Levels Bastion Of Upper Caste Males

As the third pillar of democracy, the Indian judiciary, now an 'old-boys' club', needs to imbibe the principles it is mandated to protect, write Tarika Jain and Shreya Tripathy

Equalite de France Photograph by Getty Images

The fact that in the 70 years of its existence, India’s Supreme Court has seen only eight woman judges and one Dalit chief justice is testament to the reality that the composition of our judiciary is not representative of our population. At present, women constitute a shockingly low 11 per cent of high court judges and there is not a single Dalit chief justice in any high court. The numbers are surprisingly different at the level of subordinate judiciary—28 per cent of judicial officers were women (as of 2017). So, it prompts us to ask questions.

But first, that a diverse judiciary is necessary is a given: it boosts public confidence in the institution and lends it democratic legitimacy. When the Supreme Court diluted the prevention of atrocities act, provoking outrage from Dalits, many openly traced it to skewed representation in the judiciary. It is logical that greater diversity of views on the bench will contribute to quality adjudication that draws from various life experiences and understands the different realities of litigants from varied backgrounds.

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