Women’s presence in judiciary still dismal
SEP 18 -
Even as the judiciary is widely perceived as an institution that upholds law to ensure equity and inequality, women ’s presence in this organ of the government is less than satisfactory. All the sectors of judiciary —the bench, Bar and the administration—have negligible presence of women .
The dismal presence of women in the judiciary —altogether six justices and judges—is a reminder of the prevalent patriarchal structure. Currently, Sushila Karki is the only female justice in the Supreme Court and no woman has so far been the SC chief justice. Karki will make history as she is fourth in line to the coveted top post in the judiciary . Situation in other courts is no better. Prabha Basnet is the only judge to represent women in the District Court. She is posted in Dolakha. The number of female judges in the appellate courts and their equivalent offices is four—Saranga Subedi, Hetauda; Nita Gautam Dixit, Butwal; Sushma Lata Mathema, Patan, and Meera Khadka, Foreign Employment Tribunal. Silu Singh, Sarada Shrestha and Gauri Dhakal were other justices to represent women in the apex court.
Situation is hardly better in the judicial administration. SC records show that of the total 253 section officers in the judicial administration, only 23 are women , and under-secretary is the highest post women hold. Even in the latest recruitment of officers in the judicial administration, only seven women made it in the list of 29 officers. Similarly, of around 15,000 registered lawyers, the number of women is around 1,200. What is even more telling is the fact that in the 56-year old history of Nepal Bar Association, the umbrella organisation of lawyers, not a single woman has been elected its president.
Officials attribute the dismal presence of women in the judiciary to less number of eligible candidates. “Given our social and cultural context, not many women are encouraged to take up a job in the judiciary ,” says SC Spokesperson, Shreekanta Poudel. He says that the Public Service Commission is responsible for the recruitment process and certain seats have been allocated to women . “But if all allocated seats are not filled, they get transferred to next year’s recruitment”.
Advocate and former lawmaker Sapana Pradhan Malla states that patriarchy still prevails in the judiciary . She underscores the need of encouraging women ’s enrolment in law colleges, which would eventually contribute to increase women ’s presence in the judiciary .
Malla argues that more women should be appointed as District Court judges. “If there are problems in appointing them from members of the judicial administration, they should be appointed from the Bar,” remarks Malla. Even as few women hold license of advocates, even fewer are actively engaged in the profession.
Posted on: 2012-09-18 08:34