Thursday, April 18, 2024

Plans afoot to bring out glossary of inappropriate gender terms used in legal discourse: CJI Chandrachud

Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud has said that plans were underway to release a legal glossary of inappropriate gendered terms used in legal discourse, which would shed light on why and how women were discriminated against not just in society and the legal profession, but also in the language employed. 

Speaking during an event organised by the Gender Sensitisation and Internal Complaints Committee (GSICC) of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the CJI said he had undertaken this project a few years ago, which was near completion now. 

Justice Chandrachud recalled that as a young lawyer, when he used to sit in a group, sometimes seniors would use such language for a woman lawyer which was very inappropriate. At that time, nobody would say anything, but people have gradually realised that certain kinds of behaviour were simply not acceptable.

He further mentioned some judgments, wherein a woman was referred as a ‘concubine,’ when she is in a relationship. Women have been called thieves in verdicts where there were applications for quashing of FIRs under the Domestic Violence Act and Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code.

As per the CJI, the underlying purpose of compiling these inappropriate terms was not to belittle any judge, but to facilitate an understanding of the problems within one’s mind, which included preconceived notions and bias.

He said unless and until the society opened up about these facets, it would be difficult for the evolution of the society.

Speaking about the legal glossary, the CJI said that it was being prepared by a committee chaired by Calcutta High Court judge Moushumi Bhattacharya. 

He said the committee had received contributions from various senior lawyers, judges and researchers, including former Jammu and Kashmir High Court Chief Justice Gita Mittal, former Madras High Court Judge, Justice Prabha Sridevan and Professor Jhuma Sen, an adjunct faculty member at the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences in Kolkata.

Justice Chandrachud said he had undertaken this project a few years ago, which was near completion now. The glossary was almost ready and would be unveiled in the very near future, he added.

The CJI further revealed a proposal for reconstructing its annexe building, which would include a large space for women lawyers. Along with other initiatives, this would create a better working space for women in the Supreme Court, he added. 


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