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Gender Equality in Legal Representation: Supreme Court Reserves Seats for Women in Bar Association Committee

GS-1 Mains Exam : Society

Revision Notes

Question : Critically examine the reasons behind the historical underrepresentation of women in the Indian judiciary, focusing on societal, cultural, and institutional barriers. What measures can be implemented to address these challenges and enhance women’s participation in the legal profession?

Key Points:

  • The Supreme Court mandated 33% reservation for women in the executive committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA).
  • This means a minimum of 3 out of 9 seats in the executive committee and 2 out of 6 senior executive member positions will be reserved for women.
  • This reservation does not prevent eligible women from contesting other unreserved posts, and one office-bearer position will be exclusively reserved for women on a rotational basis.
  • This ensures a minimum representation of women in the SCBA while allowing them to compete for all positions.

Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA):

  • Represents lawyers practicing in the Supreme Court of India.
  • Works to uphold legal profession standards and promote justice administration.
  • Engages in activities to improve the legal system and protect judicial independence.

Women’s Representation in Indian Judiciary:

  • Only 11 women have been Supreme Court judges since 1989, with just 3 currently serving among 33 judges.
  • Women comprise only 4.1% of all Supreme Court judges, with the remaining 96% being men.
  • More women judges are present at the district court level than the High Court level.
  • Justice Nagarathna is expected to become the first female Chief Justice of India in 2027.
  • In a historic move in 2021, 3 women judges were appointed to the Supreme Court at once.
  • Earlier this year, 20% of the 56 advocates designated as senior advocates were women, marking another first.

Reasons for Low Women Representation in Judiciary (India)

  • Historical Bias: Legal and judicial systems have traditionally been male-dominated.
  • Societal Stereotypes: Gender roles discourage women from pursuing demanding careers like law.
  • Educational Barriers: Limited access to education for women restricts entry into law schools.
  • Family Expectations: Cultural norms pressure women towards domestic responsibilities, hindering judicial careers.
  • Gender Bias: Stereotypes about capabilities lead to exclusion from higher judicial positions.
  • Networking Disadvantage: Male-dominated networks limit women’s access to career advancement opportunities.
  • Appointment Process: Lower judiciary (through exams) has better representation than higher courts (decided by collegium).

Importance of Women in Judiciary

  • Gender Equality: Diverse judiciary ensures a more inclusive legal system.
  • Fairness & Impartiality: Reflecting population diversity helps in unbiased decision-making.
  • Role Models: Women judges inspire more women to pursue law careers.
  • Access to Justice: Women may feel more comfortable with judges who share similar experiences.
  • Legal Interpretation: Women judges offer unique perspectives on legal issues related to gender, family, and women’s rights.
  • Global Norms: There’s international recognition of the need for gender diversity in the judiciary.


  • Lack of women and traditional attitudes create a non-diverse judiciary.
  • We need efforts to increase diversity and transparency in the judicial system to create a level playing field for women.


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