Why I’m cheering the appointment of 3 women judges to the Supreme Court

A world that comprises diverse human beings across religion, caste, gender, class, geography, ideology, cannot be governed by a singular set of upper class, dominant caste, majority religion men, I write in the Hindustan Times

Making History: In 71 years, the Supreme Court has had only 8 women judges. Then, in a single day, three new appointments. Pic courtesy: Bar&Bench

The photograph should be framed in every law school, preserved for history books and written about in inspirational tracts for children.

It’s the one where four women judges — three freshly elevated, one of whom, BV Nagarathna is slated to become our first woman chief justice (CJI) in 2027 though only for 36 days — flank the current CJI, NV Ramana.

Given that it took 39 years to get our first woman Supreme Court (SC) judge, Fathima Beevi in 1989, and 71 years to get eight women judges, the photograph is significant.

Is it picture perfect? Far from it. While it signals the closing of the gender gap in the higher judiciary, the larger issue of diversity remains. Do we have enough representation from among the minorities? Where are the Dalits, Adivasis and LGBTQ judges? “The swearing-in of three women is unprecedented,” says Nikita Sonawane, co-founder, Criminal Justice and Police Accountability Project. “But we still have a long way to go.”

Excluding women from top army jobs is illegal: Supreme Court

In a landmark judgment, India’s Supreme Court has ruled that women army officers have a right to command posts.

Dismissing arguments made by the central government against giving women command appointments in the army on grounds of their ‘physiological limitations’ and domestic responsibilities, the Supreme Court ruled that the exclusion of women is illegal.

The landmark judgment is a victory for gender equality guaranteed by Article 14 of the Constitution. “Implicit in the guarantee of equality is that where the action of the State does not differentiate between two classes of persons, it does not differentiate them in an unreasonable or irrational manner,” noted the judgment by a two-judge bench of Justices Dhananjay Y Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi.

The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by the central government against a 2010 Delhi High Court decision that held that short service commissioned women officers are entitled to permanent commissions at par with men.

Appealing against that decision, the central government told the Supreme Court about the possible unwillingness of male troops, drawn from predominantly rural backgrounds, to accept a woman in command of their units.