Pakistan is the only country in South Asia which has not appointed a woman as a judge of the Supreme Court. Now there are less than 10 female judges of the high courts. The Lahore High Court has only two female judges. The Parliamentary Committee on Judges’ Appointment has taken notice of the gender imbalance in the superior judiciary and asked the Judicial Commission of Pakistan to help rectify the situation by nominating females for appointment as judges in the higher judiciary. In a communication sent to the JCP, it says a proper representation of women and minority communities, who are vulnerable sections of society, in the superior courts should be ensured. The attorney general for Pakistan has also emphasised the need to appoint a proportionate number of females as judges in the superior judiciary as at present they have a poor representation in the bench. This is not because there are not many qualified women to fill these positions. The AGP is taking measures to rectify the situation. He has nominated female lawyers and also those from the minority communities for appointment as law officers in his office.
Under the Constitution of Pakistan, there is no bar on the appointment of females as judges in the superior judiciary. Article 25 states that “All citizens are equal before the law…that there shall be discrimination on the basis of sex.” A report of the Human Rights of Commission of Pakistan says that a mere 5.3% judges of the country’s high courts are women, the lowest in the region. Women working in the legal profession are in no way inferior to their male counterparts but their working conditions and the reported lack of equal opportunities act as obstacles in the way of progress. It has been observed that in cases regarding divorce, custody and other issues affecting women outcomes give confidence to the weaker sex if such cases are fought by female lawyers. A proper gender balance in the higher judiciary would further ensure women’s rights.