Judges Should Place Themselves In Sexual Crime Victims' Shoes: Attorney General

He said that 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.

Judges Should Place Themselves In Sexual Crime Victims' Shoes: Attorney General

KK Venugopal said that there has never been a female chief justice of India (File)

New Delhi:

Attorney General KK Vengopal on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that judges needsto place themselves in the sexual violence survivors' shoes while conceptualizing their response to sexual offences as if the crime was committed upon a member of their own family.

He said that 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.

Mr Venugopal said that there has never been a female chief justice of India and Supreme Court of India has at present only two women judges as against a sanctioned strength of 34 judges and the figure is consistently low across the higher judiciary.

The top law officer suggested that only those bail conditions should be imposed by the court that are permissible and in line with the statutes and cannot be extraneous, onerous, fanciful, or alien to these considerations.

A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and S Ravindra Bhat, which reserved its verdict on the issue was told by Mr Venugopal that "Judges who are from the old school and are patriarchal needs to be sensitized" and there was need for training of two to three years.

Mr Venugopal gave his suggestion to the bench in an appeal filed by advocate Aparna Bhat against a Madhya Pradesh High Court order granting bail to an accused in a molestation case on the condition that he requests the alleged survivor to tie a 'rakhi''.

He said that the top court can intervene and pass directions on two broad areas on guidelines including on bail and anticipatory bail, in line with already settled jurisprudential principles and gender sensitization of the bar and the bench.

"Gender sensitization of the bar and the bench -- particularly with regard creating a sense of judicial empathy with the victim, with the judges placing themselves in the victim's shoes, and secondly conceptualizing their response to the crime in terms of the same having been committed upon a member of their own family," Mr Venugopal said in his written submission.

He said that to achieve the goal of gender justice, it is imperative that judicial officers, judges, and members of the bar (including specifically public prosecutors), are aware themselves of stereotypes, bias, and other irrational tendencies that have to be shunned in the process of judicial adjudication.

"Such understanding would help foster a judicial system that guarantees the right of women to equal access to fair and gender-sensitive court proceedings, mediation processes, adjudication and enforcement of judgments," he said.