A recent report on the number of judges in the lower judiciary has once again raised the issue of diversity in the judicial services of the country.
According to a news report in the Times of India, the representation of the Scheduled Castes (SCs), the Scheduled Tribes (STs), and the Other Backward Classes (OBC) in the the lower judiciary remains very low.
Source: Times of India, 28 January, 2018.
The central government last November had written to 24 High Courts in the country asking for details about the representation of SCs, STs and OBCs under their respective jurisdictions.
From the report, it appears that only 11 states have responded to the request and these are mostly the smaller states.
The OBCs constitute just 12% of the total number of judges in the lower judiciary. The SCs are represented by 14% and the STs are about 12% the lower judiciary.
The share of these populations, according to a 2011 census, is 16.6% for the SCs and 8.6% for the STs. The population of the OBCs is not enumerated separately but in most states, they are above 27% of the population.
As for the representation of SC, ST and OBC judges in the higher judiciary, there is no available data even with the government.
To a question asked by an MP in Parliament on the representation of SCs and STs in the higher judiciary, the government responded stating that “Appointment of Judges of the Supreme Court is made under Article 124 of the Constitution of India. The Article does not provide for reservation for any caste or class of persons.”
The answer by the government does not give the complete picture as the Constitution in Article 335 definitely says, “The claims of the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes shall be taken into consideration, consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration, in the making of appointments to services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State.”
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes had submitted a special report to the President, which was laid out in Parliament on 11 December 2014.
This document, very categorically, says that reservations should be provided in the higher judiciary and that there is no bar to do so.