Lack of woman judges, gender sensitisation behind ‘irresponsible’ bail orders, says AG


Attorney General KK Venugopal has said the lack of woman lawyers and gender sensitisation is a reason behind irresponsible bail orders.

Attorney General KK Venugopal

Attorney General KK Venugopal has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on steps for gender sensitisation in the judiciary.

He said the lack of education, training, and a low number of woman judges are responsible for the biased orders that make women marry their rapists or tie a Rakhi even though the law clearly states the victim must be protected from any contact and harassment by the accused.

This comes after woman lawyers filed a PIL against an order passed by the Madhya Pradesh High court where the judge directed the man accused in a molestation case to go to the house of the victim and get a “Rakhi tied from her and give her shagun”.

The woman lawyers have said orders such as these trivialise the violence suffered by the victims and re-traumatise them by making them face their attacker.

AG KK Venugopal in his affidavit has suggested guidelines for setting bail conditions, training of judges and also in the recruitment of judges, and induction of women as senior advocates.

BAIL CONDITIONS

  • The court as part of its adjudication during any stage of the trial process should not seek to minimise the magnitude of the crime by suggesting a compromise for the victim and should not suggest marriage to the accused as this is beyond the powers and jurisdiction of the Court.
  • Bail conditions should not mandate contact between the accused and the victim.
  • Bail conditions must seek to protect the complainant from any harassment by the accused.
  • Where considered necessary, the complainant may be heard on whether there is any particular circumstance that may require additional conditions for her protection.

TRAINING/EDUCATION

  • Training for judges to recognise stereotypes, bias, and other irrational tendencies that have to be shunned in the process of judicial adjudication.

EDUCATION

  • This must start at the primary level – law school, and then find its way upward to be a part of continuing legal education for all
  • There is no course on gender that is taught in law schools compulsorily. Certain law schools have the subject either as a specialisation or as an elective. Similarly, the All India Bar Examination does not contain even a single question or section relating to gender sensitisation. The Bar Council of India may take necessary steps in this regard.

RECRUITMENT/PROMOTION

  • Improving the representation of women in the judiciary could also go a long way towards a more balanced and empathetic approach in cases involving sexual violence
  • For instance, this Court only has two woman judges, as against a sanctioned strength of 34 judges. There has never been a female Chief Justice of India. This figure is consistently low across the Higher Judiciary
  • Ensure greater representation of women at all levels of the judiciary, including the Supreme Court

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