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Court's opinion cannot be blinded by stereotypical perception of gender, says Delhi HC

'To harbour assumptions, especially as a judge, that a woman, by virtue of her profession as a police officer, cannot possibly be a victim in her own personal or matrimonial life, is a form of injustice of its own kind and one of the highest kinds of perversity,' the high court said in a recent order.
Last Updated : 27 April 2024, 09:57 IST
Last Updated : 27 April 2024, 09:57 IST

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New Delhi: A court's opinion cannot be blinded by stereotypical perception of any gender or profession and 'gender-neutrality' must permeate through every judgment, Delhi High Court said while setting aside an order discharging the husband of a police official of charges of cruelty under the Indian Penal Code.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said the findings of the sessions court was not based on the principles of criminal jurisprudence and fair trial but on an 'unjustified perception and bias' that a police officer can never be a victim of domestic violence.

"To harbour assumptions, especially as a judge, that a woman, by virtue of her profession as a police officer, cannot possibly be a victim in her own personal or matrimonial life, is a form of injustice of its own kind and one of the highest kinds of perversity," the high court said in a recent order.

"It is important for the judges to not forget that the idea of being gender neutral while authoring judgments not only means that the terminology employed and words used in the judgment are to be gender neutral but also means that the mind of a judge ought to be free from preconceived notions or prejudices based on gender or profession. The essence of gender-neutrality must permeate through every line of a judgment and a judge must cultivate thoughts that are inherently gender-neutral," it stated.

The high court, in its order, also called for integrating gender sensitivity in judicial education and asked the Delhi Judicial Academy to make it part of the curriculum, stating that the principles of justice and equality under the law were overlooked, and undue emphasis was laid on the gender and the professional background of the complainant woman.

The court observed that in the instant case, both the husband and the wife were working in the Delhi Police but the position of the wife was held against her by the sessions court while, conversely, the accused husband was said to have not intimidated his wife on account of his professional position.

It said the prime duty of judicial academies should be to ensure that judges do not see litigants through 'prisms of gender biasness' but write their judgments wearing 'spectacles of gender neutrality, impartiality, equality' while being aware of any hidden biases or perceptions.

"This court, therefore, requests the Delhi Judicial Academy that, in view of today's rapidly changing world, issues such as gender equality, cultural diversity, etc, which are at the forefront of legal discourse, be made part of the curriculum and continuous judicial education programme conducted by the academy," the court said.

"Such training will also foster a deeper understanding of different perspectives and experiences and will help judges make more informed and equitable decisions, thereby enhancing public trust and confidence in the legal system," it added.

The court further observed that professional life should go to a person's credit, and not discredit, and that despite wielding influence and leadership in their workplaces, women often find themselves powerless in their matrimonial homes and may get subjected to abuse and mistreatment.

Women empowerment and success should at no cost be employed to their disadvantage to either diminish their status or deprive them of legal protection or privileges, it said.

"Every woman, regardless of her position or background, deserves equal respect, recognition, and access to legal protections. This idea extends to men as well," the high court asserted.

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Published 27 April 2024, 09:57 IST

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