Renowned Senior Advocate Indira Jaising has written to Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, expressing concerns over the lack of gender sensitivity within the legal profession. In her letter, Jaising commended the Supreme Court's recent release of the 'Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes' but emphasized the need for additional handbooks addressing gender stereotyping among lawyers and in court proceedings.
Jaising urged the Court to issue a handbook specifically focusing on gender stereotyping of women lawyers, providing guidance to their male counterparts on how to interact with them professionally. She shared her own experiences, highlighting instances where competent women lawyers were labeled as "empowered" or "delightful," while others were unjustly tagged as "aggressive."
The letter underlined the presence of gender stereotyping in legal pleadings, particularly in matrimonial cases, and raised concerns about humiliating remarks made during rape trial arguments. Jaising called for the Supreme Court to develop a Model Handbook on Practice Guidelines for pleadings, aiming for adoption by High Courts and District Courts.
Additionally, Jaising pointed out a recent Calcutta High Court judgment that labeled women's use of Section 498A of the IPC as "legal terrorism." She highlighted this as an example of gender bias and stereotyping, suggesting that it veers away from focusing on the specific case at hand.
Beyond publishing handbooks, Jaising suggested that the Court create a list of words to be avoided in advocacy, pleadings, and judgments, in order to foster a more inclusive and sensitive legal environment.
Author: Anushka Taraniya
News Writer, MIT ADT University.