Human beings are bound by the decisions of the judges. A judge’s decision has a tremendous impact on human life. If a judge makes important decisions over a person’s life then it is important that he is closely acquainted with every aspect of the matter.
Diversity is very important in the judiciary because it makes the judiciary more representative, where the participation of judges of different religions, caste and gender is ensured. When a case comes before an inclusive court, then the judge acquires a fairly better judgment than an unknown judge. In this way, the judiciary, represented by everyone, will be closely acquainted with any case and thus will be more sensible in the related case.
In order to ensure that the judiciary is free and fair, the appointment process of judges is very important. The question arises whether a representative judiciary will bring any difference? When the judiciary gets more representation, then it automatically ensures itself that the judges present in the judiciary are coming from different backgrounds. In this way, the judiciary will be composed of judges of different religions, castes, genders and varied experiences. Because a person’s background can affect his decisions too, so when judges are appointed from a particular class, they decide on matters based on their own background experience. In the light of this fact, we see that when there is a case in front of the judge of such a class, with whom the Judge concerned has no relation, then in the said case, his experience is often zero. So, he would not know, what is the common life of the plaintiff or the defendant in the said case, and what will be effect of the decision on the plaintiff or the defendant? In this way, whatever be the decision in this matter, the judge cannot render complete justice. But where everyone is represented, everyone will have their own experiences. In this way, the social and cultural experience of each judge can be used in judicial proceedings. This will make judges’ decisions more fair and justified.
It is not possible to imagine a good democracy without a healthy, competent and strong judiciary. It is necessary to ensure due representation of all sections of the country. The representation of traditionally disadvantaged sections- Women, Minority, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes at the upper levels of the judiciary is extremely low. This situation can not be accepted. Among the nearly 17,000 judges of the subordinate, high courts and supreme court, the representation of women, who constitute half the country’s population, is just around 4,700. In more than a decade, the Supreme Court Collegium has proposed the name of only three women judges for appointment in the highest court. If we look at the figures, the number of crimes against women is increasing in different areas of public life, as well as in the workforce where the participation of women is increasing. Women’s claims and rights are also strengthening in terms of property and business. In such a situation, it is necessary for the judiciary to protect their rights. Due to the arrangement of reservation in subordinate courts, there have been a few places for the disadvantaged sections, but women are also very less there.
Similarly, the representation of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Minorities in the judiciary is negligible. In the last seven years since the retirement of KG Balakrishnan from the rank of Chief Justice in 2010, no person has been appointed as a judge from the Scheduled Castes in the Supreme Court. There is no Chief Justice in any High Court of the country from this class of population of more than 16 percent of the country. Collegium often ignores the standard of seniority in proposing names. Many times the news of judicial revelations about the lapses in the appointment of judges is also appearing.
According to an estimate, more than 90 percent of prisoners in the jails are of the disadvantaged sections. The prisoners hanging on the gallows also belong to these classes. It is not that most criminal cases are executed by them. The reality is that there is no one to save them. In most cases, despite being innocent, they are cursed to be locked in prisons because they have no one to judge their cases. If the deprived sections are given proper representation in the judicial system, then there will be someone who speaks on their behalf and they will get justice.
The courts do not make the law. They only interpret the law after they become law. This process is clearly defined by the separation of powers to prevent misuse of power. The role of the judiciary in the administration of a country is very important. Not only do they explain and enforce the law in the country, but also provide a mechanism between different institutions to resolve disputes. There is a need for further diversity in the judiciary to address the diversity in society. Gender diversity is also becoming more important because women ask for equal rights with men. In countries where diversity has increased, significant work has also been done to ensure diversity in the judiciary but India remained untouched on the front of diversity in the judiciary.
Supporting and protecting this philosophical concept of diversity is very important. By accepting this fact, by evaluating the individuals and groups in a way free of prejudice and by promoting an environment which fosters equality and mutual respect for each other, we create a fair society. This is very necessary to run the governance of any country smoothly.
Diversity is necessary in the judiciary because without it the possibility of violation of rights has increased significantly. In the absence of diversity, the judiciary indirectly discriminates on the basis of gender, caste, religion etc. How can injustice against women, minorities and other deprived sections of the country be justified in courts? It is not that there is a shortage of qualified people in these sections. The statistics of most universities show that there are a large number of female students in the universities compared to men. The number of students of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes has also increased unexpectedly. The question arises: why aren’t enough women, minority communities, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes there in jobs and positions, equivalent to their current population proportions even though they have the same qualifications?
Why should we be concerned about the lack of diversity in the judiciary? Because diversity can be an important resource. This affects the status and efficiency of any institution. There is a rich tradition of discussion in diversity that strengthens the organizational structure of any institution. Diversity facilitates the expansion of an institution, it broadens the perspective of the institution.
Justice Powell said in reference to academic institutions in the case of the University of California that: “Most of the learning methods are informal. Among the students of the two sexes, among the students coming from the background of different castes, religions, and cultures, there is a better way of learning interactive informal interactions between people from different states and those coming from rural areas. In a diverse country, there are various types of interests, different types of talent, they have different perspectives. During all these conversations with each other, they learn something from each other and try to learn by watching each other. On the contrary, when people are surrounded by people like themselves, they can not learn anything new from their choices.”
Diversity can establish the trust of an institution, facilitate coordination between them, and thereby enhance thought and sensitivity towards different communities.
There is another loss of separation between different communities, which itself is harmful to the dominant established community, and it is the continuation of their harmful customs, traditions, and myths. In this way, the established community cannot get a chance to think out of their own stereotypes, which by itself also stops their development.
A judiciary consisting of diversity historically indicates public acceptance and thus there is an invaluable message for the inclusion of excluded communities in the mainstream. This increases the credibility of the courts among the affected communities. It seems to people about the judiciary without diversity that they have no voice in it. It creates the mentality of isolation between the deprived sections. This results in the aspirations of these communities and their development are blocked. Of course, with increasing diversity in the judiciary, the quality of judicial decisions increases. Therefore it is the need of the hour that the problem of lack of diversity in Indian judiciary should be addressed immediately.
Manoj Abhigyan is an Advocate and Human Rights Activist. Contact: +919811326145