Have you ever wondered how many women approach the judiciary to file cases in court? This post seeks to shed some light on the number of cases filed by women in the subordinate courts across India, as well as highlight the nature of cases filed by them in comparison to the nature of cases pending in the subordinate courts of India.

At a national level, approximately 10 per cent of the cases pending before the subordinate courts of India are filed by women. Many states however have more than 10 per cent of its cases filed by women, with Manipur having close to 20 per cent of its cases filed by women and Andhra Pradesh having above 15 per cent of its cases filed by women. Yet, this number varies greatly at a state level; in a few states, less than 5 per cent of the pending cases were filed by women! This is more surprising for a state like Gujarat which is the 5th largest state in terms of the number of pending cases in the subordinate courts, but only 4.73 per cent of these cases are filed by women.

Figure 1 below displays the following statistics:

  • The percentage of pending cases in the subordinate courts that were filed by women;
  • The overall proportion of pending civil and criminal cases in the subordinate courts; and
  • The proportion of pending civil and criminal cases that were filed by women in the subordinate courts.

 

 

 

 

Figure 1 – Overview of cases in the subordinate courts*

* Data collected from the National Judicial Data Grid as on 11 May 2018.

A visible observation to be made from Figure 1 is that while 70 per cent of the overall cases pending before the subordinate courts in India are criminal cases, a look at the number of cases filed by women shows that only 50 per cent of the cases filed by women are criminal cases. On the other hand, at an overall level, 30 per cent of the cases pending before the subordinate courts are civil cases; however there is a higher proportion of civil cases (50 per cent) among the cases filed by women. This trend holds true even at a state-level – in every state, the proportion of civil cases filed by women is higher than the overall proportion of civil cases in the subordinate courts of that state. Similarly, in every state, the proportion of criminal cases filed by women is lower than the overall proportion of criminal cases in the subordinate courts of that state.

One of the reasons behind such a trend in the proportion of civil and criminal cases filed by women, could be due to criminal cases being filed in the name of the state. However, regardless of the nature of cases filed by women, there is a need to probe into why only 10 per cent of the cases filed before the subordinate courts are filed by women, surely it cannot be that only 10 per cent of those with disputes are women. If there are structural barriers that prevent a woman’s access to justice, there needs to be a concerted effort to identify and implement measures to give women a level playing field.