Attorney General KK Venugopal on Monday told the Supreme Court that judges need to be educated on gender sensitisation, Bar and Bench reported. Venugopal made the remarks during a hearing on the conditions of a bail imposed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court, where it directed the accused in a sexual assault case to get a rakhi tied by the complainant.
“The suggestion is the exam for judges and national judicial academy and state judicial academy must have programmes on gender sensitisation,” the attorney general said. “As far as the committee is concerned, a Supreme Court judgement should be put on the state information system which will go to subordinate courts.”
Venugopal said that the High Court’s order was “nothing but a drama” and that it must be condemned. “This is an opportunity for this court to impart gender sensitisation,” he submitted.
The Supreme Court has asked Venugopal and all parties concerned in the case to file written submissions regarding the steps that can be taken on the matter. The case has been listed after three weeks and is likely to be taken up on November 27.
The case pertains to a plea filed by advocate Aparna Bhat and eight other women lawyers questioning the trivialisation of sexual offences by courts in the country in connection with the Madhya Pradesh High Court’s July 30 order.
Sanjay Parikh, appearing for the petitioners, said the case was not limited to the High Court’s order but also raises questions on such remarks made by other judges that objectify women who have faced sexual assault.
Parikh said the petitioners have demanded a stay on the bail condition, clarifying that they were not challenging the grant of bail. However, the Supreme Court noted that the bail conditions have already been met.
The plea further contended that the bail plea would trivialise such sexual offences as the order came from a High Court. “The Hon’ble High Court ought to have been cognizant and sensitive to the fact that in a case involving a sexual offence having been committed against a woman, it is immeasurably difficult for the survivor to lodge an FIR [first information report] and pursue a criminal case against the accused at the threshold,” the plea said.
The plea also asked whether in a case of bail, it was appropriate for a court to impose “extraneous conditions” that allow contact between the accused and the complainant. It further said that the High Court’s order asking the accused to visit the woman’s home would lead to the “victimisation of the survivor in her own house”. The plea added that the alleged offence, in this case, was committed by the accused by forcibly entering the woman’s house.
After the attorney general’s observations, the top court asked him to distribute a note on the matter and scheduled the next hearing after three weeks, reported NDTV. The Supreme Court, in the last hearing, had asked for Venugopal’s assistance on a petition for stay on the Madhya Pradesh High Court judgement.