The Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, announced this morning that the Supreme Court has compiled a “Handbook on combating Gender Stereotypes” to identify and eliminate the use of words and phrases that are laden with gender stereotypes in court decisions and court language.
“This is intended to assist judges and the legal community in identifying, comprehending, and combating gender stereotypes in legal discourse. It includes a glossary of gender-biased terms and suggests alternative words and phrases for use in crafting pleadings, orders, and judgements. It is for solicitors and justices”, stated the CJI.
This manual identifies common stereotypes held by women, many of which have been used by males in the past, and explains why they are inaccurate and how they can distort the application v. The purpose is not to criticise or cast doubt on judgements, but rather to demonstrate how unwittingly • types may be employed. The purpose of this manual is to raise awareness against the use of detrimental stereotypes, particularly those that target women, by describing which stereotypes are added.
“It helps judges identify and avoid such stereotypes by, first, identifying language that promotes gender stereotypes and offering alternatives, and, second, identifying common reasoning patterns based on gender stereotypes, especially about women. And third, highlighting Supreme Court decisions that have dismissed these stereotypes”, CJI explained.
In March of this year, while speaking at a public event, CJI Chandrachud disclosed that a compendium on gender stereotypes was in the works. ”’For instance, I have encountered court decisions that refer to a woman in a relationship as a ‘concubine. “Women have been referred to as ‘keeps’ in cases involving applications to quash FIRs filed under the Domestic Violence Act and Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code,” the CJI had said at the time.
Chief Justice Chandrachud revealed at the time that the legal glossary was compiled by a committee led by Calcutta High Court judge Moushumi Bhattacharya. Other participants included Delhi High Court Judge Justice Prathiba M. Singh, former judges Prabha Sridevan and Gita Mittal, and Jhuma Sen, Advocate, Calcutta High Court and Supreme Court, as well as adjunct faculty at the West Bengal National University of Juridical Studies in Kolkata.