New Delhi: Only 73 judges out of the 670 judges serving in various high courts are women, the government has informed a parliamentary committee.
The government also pointed out that against the sanctioned strength of 1,079 judges as on March 23, 2018, only 670 judges are working in 24 high courts of the country, leaving 409 vacancies.
"There are 73 women judges working in different high courts as on March 23, 2018, which in percentage terms is 10.89 per cent of the working strength," the Department of Justice in the Law Ministry informed the department-related Standing Committee on Law and Personnel.
Responding to the concerns of the parliamentary panel on inadequate representation of women and people from marginalised communities, the ministry said the Centre had been requesting chief justices of high courts that while sending proposals for appointment of judges, "due consideration" be given to "suitable candidates" belonging to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes, minorities and women. "This is being done to ensure a fair representation of different sections of the society in the higher judiciary," the government said.
It, however, made it clear that there was no proposal to amend Articles 124 and 217 of the Constitution to allow reservation in the higher judiciary.
"The committee feels that a timeline of six weeks given to chief minister/governor may be reduced to expedite the process of appointment of judges. It also feels since there is no proposal to raise the retirement age of judges in higher judiciary by the government, unnecessary delay in recruitment of judges should be avoided at any cost," it said.
As of now, Governors and chief ministers are given six weeks to recommend proposal received from the chief justice of the high court to appoint a candidate as a judge.
There were 24 high courts when the committee had prepared its report.
From January 1, the number of high courts have gone up to 25 with Andhra Pradesh and Telangana getting separate high courts.