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Majority Of Judges Are Upper Castes

By Ishaan Gera
February 13, 2023 16:25 IST
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The law ministry said 78 per cent of high court judges appointed between 2018 and 2022 belonged to the upper caste.

The Saket district court in New Delhi. Kindly note the image has been published only for representational purposes. Photograph: R Raveendran/ANI Photo

The courts have repeatedly upheld caste-based reservations, but the rule does not seem to apply to the judiciary.

Although some states have a reservation policy in the lower judiciary, a nationwide analysis shows that social diversity is lagging for certain communities.

A Business Standard analysis of data from July 2022 on the working strength in lower courts found that only 4.9 per cent of the judges in district and subordinate courts belonged to the Scheduled Tribes.

If the reservation criterion were to apply to lower judiciary across the country, the ratio would be 7.5 per cent.

The ratio for Scheduled Castes was 13.3 per cent and for Other Backward Classes, it was 23.8 per cent.

The reservation limit in government jobs for SC and OBC is 15 and 27 per cent, respectively.

That said, the lower judiciary fared better than the higher courts.

In a recent submission before a Parliamentary panel, the law ministry said that 78 per cent of high court judges appointed between 2018 and 2022 belonged to the upper caste.

Two years ago, in its 106th report, the department-related standing committee observed that lack of social diversity in the judiciary was a concern. More so, in some states.

Take the example of Odisha. The state had 22.8 per cent of the population from the ST community, according to the 2011 Census, but no ST judge in the lower courts.

It was the same for West Bengal, which had a 5.8 per cent ST population.

And despite having a 14.8 per cent representation of STs in the state population, Gujarat had just 0.4 per cent ST judges in its district and subordinate courts.

Maharashtra had a similar ratio, despite 9.4 per cent of the people in the state belonging to the ST community.

Chhattisgarh had better representation, with 27.8 per cent of the judges coming from the ST community. In Madhya Pradesh, the ratio was 14.8 per cent.

The representation was better when it came to Scheduled Castes.

Eleven of 15 states with an SC population of over 15 per cent had over 15 per cent of its lower judiciary officers coming from the community.

Punjab had the highest share with 24 per cent representation; it also had the highest percentage of the SC population, at 32 per cent.

Meanwhile, West Bengal, with a 24 per cent share from the SC community, had no SC representation in the lower judiciary until July 2022.

Odisha was again a laggard with a 2.2 per cent representation of SCs as judges in district and subordinate courts.

The community had a 17 per cent share of the state's population in 2011.



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Ishaan Gera
Source: source