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The question of judicial diversity has long featured in global discourse, encompassing demographic characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic background etc. as well as professional background.
Arguments in favour of prioritising judicial diversity emphasise that it provides decision-making power to previously disenfranchised sections of society, and that a diverse bench is an essential component of a fair and impartial judiciary. But in the Indian context, popular discourse on courts tends to exclusively focus on case delay, ignoring other systemic problems that are equally important for maintaining public confidence in the judiciary, and for ensuring that the courts function in a just and equitable manner.
While there are many dimensions to the diversity debate, this episode of BIC Talks focuses on gender diversity in the lower judiciary. Highlighting some of the outcomes from two research papers on this subject are lawyers and researchers Deepika Kinhal and Shreya Tripathy in conversation with lawyer Poornima Hatti.
Deepika Kinhal is a legal researcher and a policy professional focused on bringing solutions to India’s justice delivery systems through an interdisciplinary, collaborative approach. As a Lead for the Judicial Reforms team at Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, she is currently managing multiple projects at the intersection of law and policy with technology, design, systems thinking and management. She is also working on engagements with the eCommittee of the Supreme Court of India and NITI Aayog to formulate policies and action plans to meaningfully integrate technology in India’s justice systems. Apart from data-driven research reports, Deepika regularly writes in leading print and online media on issues concerning the judiciary, and women and child rights.
Shreya Tripathy is a Research Fellow working with the Justice Access and Lowering Delays in India (JALDI) Initiative at Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy. She is currently working on topics such as diversity, infrastructure and transparency in the judiciary. Her areas of interest include judicial reforms and human rights. Shreya has publications in the Economic and Political Weekly and other law & policy review journals. She has also published in the Outlook and platforms such as Hindustan Times and First Post.
Poornima Hatti leads the dispute resolution team at Samvad Partners and is part of the founding team. She has been consistently recognised as a leading disputes lawyer in India and across the Asia Pacific. Ms Hatti is focussed on diversity and inclusion across workplaces, writing regularly and working on work place inclusion and has been recognised by Chambers and Partners as trail blazing champion in the area.