Supreme Court: Courts Should Avoid Patriarchal & Stereotypical Notions About Women

While setting aside the “rakhi-for-bail” order of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, the Supreme Court issued a set of guidelines to be followed by Courts for Dealing With Sexual Crimes.

The Court held that the “use of reasoning/language which diminishes the offence and tends to trivialize the survivor, is to be avoided under all circumstances.

Bail conditions and orders, the court said, should avoid reflecting stereotypical or patriarchal notions about women and their place in society, besides ensuring no contact between the accused and the complainant as a condition for bail must strictly be in accordance with the requirements of the Cr. PC. In other words, discussion about the dress, behavior, or past “conduct” or “morals” of the prosecutrix, should not enter the verdict granting bail ; “entrenched paternalistic and misogynistic attitudes that are regrettably reflected at times in judicial orders’’ must be forbidden.

The ruling handed out a checklist for the judges on what must be avoided during judicial proceedings and could never become part of an order; like to say that the survivor had in the past consented to such or similar acts or that she behaved promiscuously, or by her acts or clothing, provoked the alleged action of the accused, that she behaved in a manner unbecoming of chaste or “Indian” women, or that she had called upon the situation by her behaviour, etc,should be not part of Judicial Proceedings.


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