As per the information provided by the Union Ministry of Law & Justice, 492 of the 650 High Court judges appointed between 2018 and 2023 belong to the General Category, constituting 75.69% of the total strength.
The rest of the appointments include 23 from the Scheduled Caste (SC) category (3.54%), 10 from the Scheduled Tribes (ST) category (1.54%), 76 from the Other Backward Classes (11.7%) and 36 from religious minorities (5.54%) accounting to a total about 22.24%. In addition, ministry has said that data about 13 judges are not available.
Out of 824 judges currently working in the Supreme Court and the High Courts (34 in SC and 790 in HC), only 111 are women (about 13.5 %).
The statistics were released by Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal after Dr. John Brittas, a CPI(M) MP in Rajya Sabha raised questions about the overall composition of HC judges.
Law Ministry stated that an official request has been sent to the Chief Justices of High Courts that while nominating Judges, suitable candidates from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities and Women must be considered to ensure social diversity in appointments of judges.
‘The Government remains committed to social diversity in the appointment of Judges in the Higher Judiciary’, Minister of Law and Justice Arjun Ram Meghwal said.
In the collegium system followed by the current appointments to HC and SC, the responsibility to maintain social diversity and representation to all sections of the society including SC/ST/OBC/Women/Minorities is vested in the hands of the Judiciary, the statement added.
The government is trying to bring out a revised Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) in consultation with the Collegium as suggested by the Supreme Court judgment in 2015 concerning National Judicial Appointments Commission, the Ministry said.
A draft of MoP prepared at present makes sure that the appointment of judges to the High Court and the Supreme Court would be merit based, and as far as possible accommodative of the representation of women and marginalized sections of society.
It was said that in 2017, 2021 and 2023, the Union had formally asked the Supreme Court to make improvements to the MoP and to accelerate its finalization for making the system of appointment to the Courts ‘more transparent, fair, representative and acceptable‘.