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CJI Chandrachud launches handbook for judges to combat gender stereotypes

CJI Chandrachud launches handbook for judges to combat gender stereotypes

New Delhi: In a significant move, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud on Wednesday announced that the Supreme Court has prepared a handbook to assist judges and lawyers in identifying, understanding and combating gender stereotypes about women in judgments and pleadings.

The handbook contains a glossary of gender unjust terms and cautions judges against using them in court orders, while also suggesting alternative words or phrases which may be used in pleadings, orders and judgments.

It explains stereotypes and helps judges to avoid them by identifying language that promotes gender stereotypes and offering them with alternative words and phrases.

At the launch of the handbook, CGI Chandrachud cited several offensive words that have been used for women in past court judgments. Among around 40 odd words red-flagged by the Supreme Court, prostitute, hooker, whore, keep, mistress and slut are some of them.

The said that the judges should accurately describe the sexual orientation of the person concerned, homosexual or bisexual, use "woman" and avoid words such as "fallen woman", “faggot” and "harlot".

Words like "dutiful wife" and "obedient wife" should also be avoided, the handbook stated.

The handbook also busted several stereotypes attached to women, such as women being overly emotional and indecisive, unmarried women being incapable of taking decisions and all women wanting to have children.

"These words are improper and have been used for women in court judgments. This handbook's objective is not to criticise those judgments or doubt them. This is just to underline how gender stereotypes are perpetuated inadvertently," he said.

He said the release of the handbook is not to cast doubt or criticise past judgments, but to indicate how stereotypes may unwittingly be employed.

The objective of the handbook is to raise awareness against utilisation of harmful stereotypes, particularly those prejudicial to women, the CJI added.

Also Read: Not isolated case, cannot be justified: SC on violence against women in Manipur

He said the handbook will be uploaded on the website of the Supreme Court shortly, adding that a user manual and FAQs on e-filing with video tutorials will also be made available.

During an event in March, the Chief Justice had said a handbook to flag gender stereotypes was in the works.

"For instance, I have come across judgments which have referred to a woman as a 'concubine' when she is in a relationship. Women have been called 'keeps' in judgements, where there were applications for quashing of FIRs under the Domestic Violence Act and Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code," he had said, explaining the reasons for preparing this handbook.

The step is yet another progressive move by the Supreme Court during the tenure of Chief Justice Chandrachud. Earlier, the apex court moved to translate its judgments into regional languages to make them more accessible.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had praised the move during his Independence Day Speech at Red Fort yesterday. The Chief Justice, who was seated in the audience, responded with a folded hands gesture, which quickly went viral on social media.

Also Read: Centre moves bill to exclude CJI from selection panel to appoint CEC, ECs

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TAGS:Supreme CourtCJI ChandrachudGender stereotypesHandbook
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