President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday called for better representation of women, OBCs and SC/STs in higher judiciary and said that their current strength is unacceptably low.
Speaking at Law Day celebrations, the President said, “There is unacceptably low representation of traditionally weaker sections such as OBCs, SCs and STs, especially in higher judiciary. Only one in four judges is a woman.”
Suggesting that the present situation should be remedied, he asked the judiciary to walk in pace with other public institutions in being truly representatives of society’s diversity.
“Like our other public institutions, our judiciary too has to be judicious in being representative of the diversity of our country, and the depth and breadth of our society,” Mr Kovind said.
“Of the 17,000 judges in our subordinate courts, high courts and the Supreme Court, only about 4,700 — roughly one in four — are women,” he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra rejected the perception that there was judicial activism in the country. He said protection of fundamental rights of the citizens is the duty of judiciary.
“The citizens have been guaranteed fundamental rights and the governing entities are not expected to encroach upon it. The moment they encroach upon it or there is an apprehension that there is an encroachment, the judiciary is obliged to stand by them,” the CJI said.
Countering claims that the judiciary tends to interfere in policy-making, the CJI said that the judiciary has no desire to make policy.
“Nobody intends, nobody desires to enter upon the policy-making areas. We don’t make policies but we interpret policies and that’s our job. The prime task of the three wings of the state is to defend the Constitution, its values, morals and philosophy.”