Attorney-General KK Venugopal told the Supreme Court today that judges needed gender sensitisation so that they were sensitive while dealing with sexual assault cases. The country’s topmost law officer was referring to the Madhya Pradesh High Court order directing a man accused of sexual assault to get a rakhi tied by his victim as a condition of bail.
The judges’ comments were “condemnable”, said the Attorney-General. He said that the judges seemed to have been “carried away” while passing the order.
Venugopal was addressing a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar that was hearing an appeal against the Madhya Pradesh High Court order. He told the court that the national judicial academy and state academies should teach that such orders were not permissible.
“Judges need to be educated. Judges recruitment exam should have a part on gender sensitisation. The exam for judges and the National Judicial Academy and the State Judicial Academy must have programmes on gender sensitisation,” Venugopal told the bench, which comprised Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Sanjiv Khanna too.
“So far as sensitisation is concerned, gender sensitisation and grievance redressal committee is there in Supreme Court. Lectures need to be given to district and subordinate, and high courts too about gender sensitisation,” Venugopal said.
Following the observations of the attorney-general, the Supreme Court asked him to circulate a note on the issue. The apex court scheduled the next hearing on a date three weeks later.
The highest court of the country, in its last hearing, had sought the assistance of the attorney-general on a plea for stay on the Madhya Pradesh high court order after a group of nine women lawyers moved the court, saying the high court order was a “trivialisation of victim’s trauma”.
The high court, in its 30 July order, had granted bail to the accused and imposed a condition that he along with his wife should visit the house of the complainant and request her to tie a rakhi on him with the promise to protect her to the best of his ability for all times to come.