Updated February 13th, 2024 at 14:33 IST

Breaking Barriers: Senior Adv SC Mahalakshmi Pavani Champions Gender Equality In Indian Judiciary

Efforts to advocate for gender parity, such as proposing a 50% representation of women on the judiciary bench, face challenges.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Senior Advocate Supreme Court Mahalakshmi Pavani Champions Gender Equality In Indian Judiciary | Image:Republic
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The recent appointment of 11 women as Senior Advocates to the Supreme Court of India marks a historic moment, highlighting progress in gender representation. This achievement, led by Chief Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, reflects a departure from past trends, where only 12 women were designated in 75 years of Indian Independence. Notably, the selection committee included women representation from the Bar, such as Ms. Kiran Suri, a self-made senior advocate.

However, this milestone also prompts a re-evaluation of women's reservation policies. Despite initiatives like the 1992 73rd Amendment mandating one-third reservation for women in Panchayat councils, gender representation in government and law enforcement remains inadequate. The India Justice Report 2019 reveals stark disparities, with only 7% of police personnel and 28% of lower judiciary positions occupied by women.

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Efforts to advocate for gender parity, such as proposing a 50% representation of women on the judiciary bench, face challenges. While female judges bring diverse perspectives to decision-making, their presence in state judiciaries is limited. Affirmative action policies vary across states, with reservations for women judges ranging from 30% to 35%, but often falling short of targets.

The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eight Amendment) Act, 2023, proposes women's reservation in legislative bodies, reflecting a commitment to gender equality. However, concerns arise regarding implementation and the conditional nature of reservation, subject to census data and renewal every fifteen years.

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Historically, reservations for marginalized groups have been introduced without similar constraints, raising questions about the need for such limitations on women's reservation. Studies on the impact of reservation in Panchayati Raj reveal positive outcomes, indicating the potential for women's increased participation in governance.

A collaborative approach between the executive and judiciary is crucial to address vacancies promptly and ensure diversity in appointments, thereby expediting the judicial process. Moreover, evidence-based reforms are necessary to enhance access to justice and address systemic inequalities.

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As discussions continue on the immediate implementation of women's quota in parliament and state assemblies, it is essential to recognize women's political empowerment as integral to combating gender bias and promoting inclusivity. Moving beyond slogans like "Beti Bachao Beti Padhao," emphasis should be placed on empowering women across all sectors and levels of governance, fostering a truly equitable society.

The journey towards gender equality extends beyond legislative measures. It requires a shift in societal attitudes and entrenched biases that perpetuate gender disparities. Initiatives to promote women's leadership and participation in decision-making processes are crucial. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's words resonate profoundly in this context, emphasizing the importance of women's progress in measuring the advancement of society.

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Furthermore, addressing gender-based violence and ensuring the safety and security of women are imperative. The inadequate representation of women in law enforcement exacerbates challenges in addressing crimes against women. Efforts to increase the recruitment and retention of women in police forces and judiciary can contribute to a more inclusive and effective justice system.

Education also plays a pivotal role in empowering women and challenging traditional gender norms. Access to quality education and opportunities for skill development are essential for women's economic independence and social empowerment. By investing in girls' education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for women, societies can unlock their full potential and contribute to sustainable development.

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In conclusion, achieving gender equality and women's empowerment requires comprehensive and sustained efforts across various sectors. While legislative measures such as reservations are important steps, their effective implementation and complementarity with broader social and cultural changes are crucial. By fostering an environment that values and respects women's rights and contributions, societies can progress towards a more just and equitable future.

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Published February 13th, 2024 at 14:33 IST