Judges urged not to make gender-biased comments

Judges urged not to make gender-biased comments

Judges urged not to make gender-biased comments

Judges should not make “gender biased” and “insensitive” comments in their verdicts while dealing with cases pertaining to women, the Delhi High Court said while expunging two such remarks made by a fast track court.

Taking suo motu cognisance of the remarks made by the court’s trial judge while giving verdict in a rape case, a bench of justices Pradeep Nandrajog and V Kameswar Rao said the observations are “prima-facie insensitive.”

The bench further said that the “sweeping observations” against the girl are “not based on the evidence on record.”

“It is apparent that the remarks, which are general in nature, are not based on the evidence on record, appear to be the result of the experience of the judge. The judge has imparted his personal knowledge pertaining to females in the decision making,” the bench said.

Referring to the judge’s comment that women in the age group of 19-24 years voluntarily elope with their lovers, the bench said the remark “is not based on any empirical data”.

“The passage brings out the dilemma of the women in the Indian society. Caught between her ambition to choose a life partner and the pull of the patriarchal society, women are torn apart between her personal ambition and the patriarchal society. So placed, she has to be treated with sympathy and care and not made the object of ridicule by styling her as a person who is in conflict with herself,” the bench said.

Referring to another observation made by the judge, the bench said, “the second observation is a sermon as to how girls should conduct themselves in society”.

“Every individual is entitled to choose the social life which one wants to lead, and if in the process of choosing the social life which one wants to lead, somebody causes harm, no court can say that: You chose a way of life at your peril and thus the system will not hear your cry,” it added.

“The observations by the judge are prima-facie insensitive observations and are capable of influencing the police to take up women harassment cases lightly, resulting in an insensitive investigation and complete evidence not being brought before the court,” the bench observed.

Taking on record the administrative action against the judge by the Delhi High Court, it said, “Judicial pronouncements which are gender biased may be used as a standard by the police personnel and prosecutors in making decisions how they should investigate and prosecute cases.”

The trial judge in October had made general remarks while dealing with a case filed by a girl against a man, alleging that he had physical relations with her on the false pretext of marriage.