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Ensure gender justice, CJI tells courts
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 11
Chief Justice of India R. C. Lahoti today asked the courts to be more sensitive to the rights of women and achieve the goal of “gender justice” by treating them on an equal footing with men. To that end, he recommended the appointment of more judicial officers and lawyers.

“A woman today expects herself to be treated as an individual, a living human being, entitled to the same dignity and status as her male counterpart, and rightly so,” Justice Lahoti said addressing a conference of Chief Justices of High Courts here on “Women empowerment vis-a-vis legislation and judicial decisions”.

Stating that judges in the country could not be accused of gender injustice as the judiciary had a good track record of protecting the rights of women, the CJI said crimes against women had to be dealt with on a priority basis to ensure early decisions in their cases.

“Treat them with dignity and honour and inculcate confidence in them by your conduct, behaviour and ideology whenever they come to you as victims to seek justice.” The message should go down clearly that any behaviour that violates the dignity of woman could not be tolerated by the courts, the CJI told the judges.

Asking the High Court Chief Justices to ensure the disposal of cases involving women as speedily as possible, he admitted that the power of the judiciary to do end the century-old injustices against women were very limited as the responsibility to frame laws for their betterment lay with the government.

The CJI, however, said even within the limitations there was enough scope for the courts to provide justice to women through “liberal interpretation” of the law.

Stressing on the appointment of more women judicial officers and lawyers to deal with the cases of women, he said it was the duty of the courts to ensure that whenever a woman had to appear before them she felt comfortable.

“Judges and judicial officers should be informed of the historical and cultural background in which women have lived over the centuries and understand their feelings and have regard for their needs as a class of citizens,” the CJI said.

He, however, cautioned that the fight against gender injustice should not become a war between the two sexes. “The approach should be of complementing each other, rather than competing on perceptions,” he said.

Later, Justice Lahoti also released a book titled “Search for a Vision Statement on Women Empowerment vis-a-vis Legislation and Judicial Decisions” brought out by the Indian Trust for Innovation and Social Changes.

National Commission for Women Chairperson Poornima Advani earlier expressed concern over the harassment of women at workplaces and said the Supreme Court guidelines in this regard were not being followed in letter and spirit.

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