Judges should not make “gender biased” and insensitive comments in their verdicts while dealing with matters related to women, the Delhi High Court said while expunging two of such remarks made by a fast track court here in a rape case.
A division bench of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice VK Rao, taking suo moto cognizance of general remarks made against women in a verdict delivered by a judge of a fast track court, said that the judge has imparted his personal knowledge pertaining to females in the decision making.
The bench said the trial court judge’s observations are “prima-facie insensitive” and the “sweeping observations” against the girl are “not based on the evidence on record”.
The high court said, “It is apparent that the remarks, which are general in nature, are not based on the evidence on record, (but) 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 trial court judge in October made general remarks while dealing with a case filed by a woman alleging that the man had physical relations with her after a false promise of marriage.
Referring to the trial judge’s first comment that women in the age group of 19-24 years voluntarily elope with their lovers…, the bench said the general remark is “not based on any empirical data”.
The high court said, “The passage brings out the dilemma of the women in the Indian society. Caught between her ambitions to chose a life partner and the pull of the patriarchal society, the women is 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 also referred to another observation of the trial court judge, saying “second observation is a sermon as to how girls should conduct themselves in society”.
The court added, “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.”
“The observations by the judge are prima-facie insensitive observations and are capable of influencing 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.
The court also took on record the administrative action taken against the judge by the Delhi High Court.
It cautioned, “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.”