Karnataka Women Groups write to CJ Karnataka #Bhaktavasala


 

 

To

The Hon’ble Chief Justice

High Court of Karnataka

 

 

Hon’ble Chief Justice Shri Vikramjit Sen,

 

We are writing to you in the context of the recent media reports regarding Hon’ble Justice Bhaktavatsala’s verbal comments in open Court. We are bringing these comments to your notice because they do not seem to be in consonance with the oath Justice Bhaktavatsala has taken under Article 219 to ‘bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India and to duly and faithfully and to the best of my ability, knowledge, and judgment perform the duties of my office without fear and favour, affection or ill-will and to uphold the Constitution and the laws.’ The comments attributed to J. Bhaktavatsala are deeply offensive to all right thinking people, lower the dignity and agency of women who constitute literally half the population of this country and betray animus towards women.

 

It has been reported that J. Bhaktavatsala in open court has observed as follwos:

 

1) According to media reports on August 31 2012 Justice Bhaktavatsala stated to a woman litigant in a divorce matter, “Women suffer in all marriages. You are married with two children, and know what it means to suffer as a woman. Yesterday, there was a techie couple who reconciled for the sake of their child. Your husband is doing good business, he will take care of you. Why are you still talking about his beatings? I know you have undergone pain. But that is nothing in front of what you undergo as a woman. I have not undergone such pain. But Madam (Justice BS Indrakala) has.”

The Court asked the woman if her parents were present, at which her father walked up to the bench. The judge was reported to have remarked in open court, “Ask your father if he has never beaten your mother!” When the woman said her husband would beat her in the open, in front of everyone, Justice Bhaktavatsala remarked that it was she who was bringing it out in the open. The court was told that the husband would beat her in the middle of the night and had thrown her out of the house.

When the woman’s advocate produced photographs showing her swollen face after the beatings, the court said, “You have to adjust. Are you just behind money? There is nothing in your case to argue on merits. You have to give him a divorce or go with him. Have you read about actor Darshan. He spent 30 days in jail after beating his wife. But they are living together now. What is on your mind and what is on your agenda?” The court directed the couple to go out and talk to each other. (Bangalore Mirror, August 31,2012)

 

2) In another case, a young  female advocate was citing the allegations against the husband, Justice Bhaktavatsala stopped her midway and asked, “Are you married?” When she replied in the negative, the judge said, “You are unfit to argue this case. You do not know real life. Why are you arguing like this? He is your (client’s) partner, not a stranger. Family matters should be argued only by married people, not spinsters. You should only watch. Bachelors and spinsters watching family court proceedings will start thinking if there is any need to marry at all. Marriage is not like a public transport system. You better get married and you will get very good experience to argue such cases.”

(Bangalore Mirror,  August 10, 2012)

 

Our concern is that these comments apart from lowering the dignity of the High Court of Karnataka are also indicative of a judicial mindset which leads to judicial pronouncements which are not in keeping with the Constitution. In particular, the Constitution protects intimate choices with respect to one’s partner transcending barriers of caste, class and religion, regardless of parental opposition. In Writ Petition (HC) No.67/2011, Avinash v. State of Karnataka, J. Bhaktavatsala has expressed his strong opinion against love marriages and by extension the choices made by young women about whom to marry are summarily brushed aside as choices made because of ‘hormonal imbalances’. To quote from the judgment;

In our opinion, the girls below the age of 21 years are not capable of forming a rational judgment as to suitability of the boy, who is in love. It is relevant to mention that those girls, who are suffering from harmonal imbalance easily fall prey to the boys and fall in love, marry and repent at leisure. The parents of the girl are interested in selecting a suitable boy and see that the girl leads a happy married life. Since the Hindu Marriage Act does not deal with love marriages, in our view, it is a high time that the Parliament shall take note of the sufferings and turmoil of such girls and their parents and amend the law suitably. We perpetuate our memory as to the episode of the famous Telugu Cine actor Sri Chiranjivi’s daughter’s love marriage. Hence, we suggest that in the case of love affair of a girl, who is below the age of 21 years, there shall be a condition that the parents of the girl should approve the marriage, otherwise such marriages shall be declared void or voidable.”

In particular, Justice Bhaktavatsala’s above mentioned judicial pronouncement undermines the very idea of India as a nation in which all persons are free to form consensual intimate relationships with others of their choice regardless of narrow considerations of gender, caste, religion and class. If India is to indeed move beyond being a society riven by sharp divisions of caste and religion, the antidote lies in the choices made by young people to love across these narrow domestic walls, regardless of parental opposition.

As Dr. Ambedkar noted:

I am convinced that the real remedy is inter-marriage. Fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin, and unless this feeling of kinship, of being kindred, becomes paramount, the separatist feeling- the feeling of being aliens- created by Caste will not vanish.

(Annihilation of Caste)

 

The citizens of India look to the Court to protect their right to equality, dignity and liberty. Judges must keep this constitutional mandate in mind of being the protectors of the Constitution, even as they perform their duty  to interpret the law. Thus judges do not have a free reign to give expression to their own private morality or even the morality of the wider public, but rather have a duty to interpret the law in the light of the Constitution. Judges are bound by what the Founding Father of the Indian Constitution, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar describes as constitutional morality.  Dr. Ambedkar quoted Grote, the historian of Greece, who had said:

The diffusion of constitutional morality, not merely among the majority of any community but throughout the whole, is an indispensable condition of government at once free and peaceable; since even any powerful and obstinate minority may render the working of a free institution impracticable without being strong enough to conquer the ascendancy for themselves.”

After quoting Grote, Dr. Ambedkar added:

While everybody recognised the necessity of diffusion of constitutional morality for the peaceful working of the democratic constitution, there are two things interconnected with it which are not, unfortunately, generally recognised. One is that the form of administration must be appropriate to and in the same sense as the form of the Constitution. The other is that it is perfectly possible to pervert the Constitution, without changing its form by merely changing its form of administration and to make it inconsistent and opposed to the spirit of the Constitution. ……The question is, can we presume such a diffusion of constitutional morality? Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realise that our people have yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil which is essentially undemocratic.

[Constitutional Assembly Debates: Official Reports Vol.VII: November 4, 1948, page 38],

 

J. Bhaktavatsala in making those above statements, has clearly overstepped the bounds and limits of constitutional morality as described by Dr. Ambedkar. We are extraordinarily disappointed and let down by the fact that a high constitutional functionary has through his reported comments and judicial pronouncements betrayed the enormous trust vested in him. There are serious apprehensions that in the constitutionally mandated area of non-discrimination on grounds of gender, J. Bhaktavatsala will not decide in accordance with the constitution but rather in accordance with his private morality.

 

We ask that you consider strong action in your capacity as a Chief Justice to send out the message that no Judge can so easily betray the mandate of the Constitution to ensure equality of gender. Judges have a duty to protect the mandate of Article 14 of the constitution which guarantees equality and non-discrimination and Article 15 which guarantees that there shall be no discrimination on the basis of gender. Justice Bhaktavatsala’s comments and action in court in condoning violence against women, in requiring that unmarried women are not capable of arguing matrimonial cases and comments even about Justice Indrakala, his sister Judge are extremely gender biased and discriminating against women. This bias against women is reflected not only in his statements in court but also in his judgments. Gender bias is ordinarily defined as a tendency to think about people primarily on the basis of their sex. In the judicial system, gender bias results in decisions or actions that are based upon preconceived notions of sexual roles rather than on fair and impartial appraisals of any situation. Gender bias must be eliminated in the judicial system not only because it influences the perception of women in the courtroom, but also because it undermines the manner in which courts apply the law and thus affects the substantive rights of the parties.

 

In the interest of upholding the principles of our Constitution, we would request the following:

  1. That J. Bhaktavatsala issue an unconditional public apology for his gender biased and offensive remarks.
  2. That the all appeals from the judgments of the Family Court classified as MFA(FC) are removed from J. Bhaktavatsala’s docket.
  3. Set up a Commission to look at gender bias within the judiciary in Karnataka

 

We would also request you to take serious note of these comments and ensure that in your capacity as the Chief Justice, no judge of the Karnataka High Court again gives any room for such gross insensitivity to all forms of discrimination based on gender.

 

Protest against Justice Bhaktavatsala on September 10,2012 #Bangalore


 

Justice Bhaktavatsala’s remarks in the High Court legitimizing the
criminal act of domestic violence have horrified the city and indeed the
entire country.

To protest such absolutely misogynistic mindset reflecting the dominant
attitudes of society that sanction violence against women, we are
gathering in protest on Monday September 10, 2012 from 12.30 pm onwards.
_/If you wish to join us in the protest, kindly email us in advance so
we can inform you (later) about the site of the protest./_

*Please come dressed in black and we will stand in silence with placards
to express our outrage over Justice Bhaktavatsala’s actions. (If you
prefer to bring your own messages, please note that displaying them will
be subject to review by Vimochana and other organisers).*

Following the protest we will present the attached memorandum to the
Chief Justice. If you wish to endorse the memorandum, please email us
your name, affiliation and contact details no later than Sunday night
(9th September).

We look forward to your endorsement and/or your presence in the protest.

All of us from Vimochana.


VIMOCHANA
Forum for Women’s Rights
33/1-9, Thyagraj Layout
Jaibharath Nagar, Bangalore 560033
INDIA
Tel: +91-80-25492783, 782, 781
http://www.vimochana.in

 

Family court matters taken away from Justice Bhakthavatsala #Justice #Victory


Press Trust of India / Bangalore September 08, 2012

Following an outrage over certain remarks made by a judge of Karnataka High Court on women in an open court, all family court matters, including child custody and guardianship, have been shifted from him and another judge.

The matters have been shifted to the court of justices K L Manjunath and V Suri Appa Rao from the court of Justice Bhakthavatsala and Justice B S Indrakala.

There was no other change in the subjects listed against the name of justices Bhakthavatsala and Indrakala. The changes will come into effect from September 10, official sources said.

The shifting of the matters comes in the wake of the outrage expressed by women lawyers and activists to certain oral remarks made by Bhakthavatsala in an open court.

The modification of subjects assigned to the Judges of the high court normally happens to those judges who return from their sittings at the circuit benches.

Karnataka has two circuit benches — in Gulbarga and Dharwad. Subjects are normally modified after summer vacation until Dussehra holidays, post Dussehra holidays to Christmas holidays and Christmas holidays to summer holidays.

The unusual modification of taking away just one subject relating to family court matters is an indication of the impact of the campaign that went right up to the level of the Chief Justice of India.

Justice Bhaktavatsala had yesterday expressed his displeasure about the reports appearing in certain sections of the press about the oral observations made by him while hearing a marriage dispute.

While hearing a case, Justice Bhaktavatsala rapped the media for “misinterpreting” his oral observations and said “I have not permitted to beat wife. I never approved such kind of things… In the interest of protecting family, marriages I put forth my efforts… I asked couples to forget their past and live their life peacefully… But reports are otherwise… While hearing family matters we try to conciliate between parties. The papers have taken in a different perspective.”

Certain statements made by him last month had appeared in a section of press wherein while hearing a matrimonial dispute he was reported to have told a woman lawyer that she was unfit to argue the matter as she was unmarried.

Another observation by him was while advising a techie couple who reconciled for the sake of their child, wherein he asked the wife as to why she was talking about the being beaten by her husband, when he could take good care of her as he was doing well in his business.

Women advocates led by noted senior lawyer and former Chairperson of Karnataka State Commission For Women Pramila Nesargi had recently given a representation to Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen expressing serious objection to the remarks passed by Justice Bhaktavatsala.

‘Marriage not public transport system’- #Bhaktavasala #Gender #Vaw


 

 

Sep 07, 2012 |  AsianAge

Karnataka High Court judge Justice K. Bhaktavatsala’s suggestion that a woman should stay in an abusive marriage for the sake of the marriage and her children, has come in for criticism from various sections. An online petition appealing to Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia to intervene and take action against Justice Bhaktavatsala has been signed by over 500 people across the nation. Some blogs have also publicised the issue and asked for removal of the judge.

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, a Mumbai-based human rights and women’s rights activist on Thursday published an online appeal to Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Vikramjit Sen to look into the gender-insensitive remarks of Justice Bhaktavatsala. “I urge you not to give matrimonial cases to Justice Bhaktavatsala, so that there will be no miscarriage of justice in all cases relating to women because of such biased views,” the petition says. The activist has also sent a petition to the CJI to remove Justice Bhaktavatsala from hearing matrimonial cases.

“If a HC judge can say such atrocious things, what do we expect of the common man? Just goes to shows the ineffectiveness of the DV Act itself. Women first goes through domestic abuse and thereafter judicial abuse,” one of the comments to the petition reads. Many human rights activists have raised their voice against the judge’s comment and a page on FaceBook (www.facebook.com/mcpjudge) calls the judge an “MCP” and asks for his removal. The page, titled ‘Remove Justice Bhaktavatsala’, had received 168 likes till Thursday evening.

Social and human rights activists in Bengaluru are coming together to launch a protest against Justice Bhaktavatsala. A woman lawyer of Karnataka High Court has submitted a memorandum to Justice Kapadia demanding that judges should be given guidelines on how to deal with sensitive cases. Senior advocate and former chairperson of Karnataka State Women’s Commission, Mrs Pramila Nesargi, has written to the Chief Justice of the high court to intervene in this issue.

K’taka HC judge spouts another gem on hormonal imbalance and love marraiges


 

Even as the outrage over a recent controversial observation made by a Karnataka High Court judge was yet to die down, Headlines Today on Thursday came across yet another example of his biased mindset reflected while delivering a judgement on May 12, 2011.

Justice K. Bhaktavatsala and Justice Samudrala Govindarajulu were hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by a 21-year-old man who had alleged that the girl he married was missing. Going by the circumstances of the case, the court had ordered registering of a case of kidnapping against the youth.

In the course of delivering the judgement, Justice Bhaktavatsala observed: “In our opinion, girls below the age of 21 years are not capable of forming a rational judgement as to suitability of the boy, who is in love.”

He went on to add that those girls, who were suffering from hormonal imbalance, easily fell prey to boys and fell in love, marry and repent at leisure.

Finally, striking at the very right of young girls to marry of their own free will, Justice Bhaktavatsala said “we suggested that in the case of love affair of a girl, who is below the age of 21 years, there shall be a condition that the parents of the girl should approve the marriage, otherwise such marriages should be declared void or voidable”.

Headlines Today had on Wednesday reported how Justice Bhaktavatsala had told a domestic abuse victim that it might be okay for the husband to beat a woman if he took good care of her.

“Women suffer in all marriages. You are married with two children and know what it means to suffer as a woman… Your husband is doing good business. He will take care of you. Why are you still talking about his beatings,” Justice Bhaktavatsala had asked.

The judge had made a similar sexist remark to an unmarried female lawyer: “Family matters should be argued only by married people, not spinsters. You should only watch. Marriage is not like a public transport system. You better get married and you will get very good experience to argue such cases.”

Senior lawyers object to judge’s remarks

Activist lawyer Kamayani Bali Mahabal said, “Who run away or who fall in love have some hormonal problem… So a girl should not be allowed to marry before 21. Which age is he talking about? And whatever his beliefs are, he cannot impose during his judgement.”

Senior advocate Pramila Nesargi said, “As though women have it and men won’t have it… We are aggrieved by such judgements coming from the bench. It is unbecoming of any judge sitting in the high court or for that matter any court. They can’t make such passing remarks against ladies. We are also human beings.”

Govt formulating rules to maintain courts’ dignity: Minister

Reacting to the judge’s remarks, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid said, “We are in the middle of formulating certain rules where such statements be discouraged while maintaining the dignity of the courts at the same time. It is a delicate matter. I would not get into specifics, but we are in touch with higher judiciary.”

With anger mounting over the judge’s sexist remarks, a petition has already been sent to Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia seeking his intervention in the matter. It remains to be seen if the CJI intervenes.

 

Karnataka HC Judge Finds Wife Bashing Acceptable; Draws Flak


By IBTimes Staff Reporter | September 6, 2012

In an outlandish opinion of domestic violence in India, a Karnataka High Court judge reportedly said that a husband bashing the wife is acceptable as long as he takes good care of her.

Justice Bhaktavatsala has come under intense criticism for his so-called sexist remarks in a divorce case. An online campaign has been launched against him and online protesters have sought the Chief Justice of Karnataka to take serious action against Bhaktavatsala besides having him removed from his post.

More than 500 people have signed an online petition supporting the activists demand for striping Bhaktavatsala off his Justice position. An activists in their petition said, “The comments made by Justice Bhaktavatsala in various domestic violence and divorce court proceedings  recently are perpetuating the myth of patriarchy and his opinions going beyond the legal scope..”

“The judges are supposed to protect and enforce human rights of the citizens, but here we have a judge who is against women rights and even encouraging them to continue to stay in a violent relationship. Such views are retrograde and against the tenets of the Constitution of India,” the petition read.

The High Court judge reportedly made it worse by suggesting the woman to ask whether her father didn’t resort to beating her mother. “Ask your father if he has never beaten your mother!”

Each blow from Bhaktavatsala was painful than the other, until he concluded by asking the woman petitioner to “adjust” to her condition keeping her children’s future in mind.

Going by the content in online petition, Bhaktavatsala seems to have had allegedly given similar advices to couples who seek divorce for several reasons.

According to the activists, when a woman sought divorce from her husband on grounds of domestic violence, Justice Bhaktavatsala counsels the petitioner to endure the barbaric treatment in a bid to keep the family intact.

“Women suffer in all marriages. You are married with two children, and know what it means to suffer as a woman. Yesterday, there was a techie couple who reconciled for the sake of their child. Your husband is doing good business, he will take care of you. Why are you still talking about his beatings? I know you have undergone pain. But that is nothing in front of what you undergo as a woman. I have not undergone such pain. But madam (Justice BS Indrakala) has,” the online petition explained Justice Bhaktavatsala suggestion.

An Appeal to Chief Justice,Karnataka High Court Mr Vikramjit Sen


 

To

Hon’ble Chief Justice

Mr Vikramjit Sen

Karnataka High Court

Bengaluru

Sub- An appeal to look into gender insensitive remarks of Justice Bhaktavatsala

Your Honor,

I am shocked at the comments made by Justice Bhaktavatsala of Karnataka , High Court, in various domestic violence and divorce cases recently are perpetuating the myth of patriarchy and his opinions are unconstitutional The judges are supposed to protect and enforce human rights of the citizens , but here we have a judge who is against women rights and even encouraging them to continue to stay in a violent relationship.

According to media reports on August 31, he went out of his way to counsel a young woman whose stated reason for not living with her husband was that he used to beat her. Justice Bhaktavatsala said, “Women suffer in all marriages. You are married with two children, and know what it means to suffer as a woman. Yesterday, there was a techie couple who reconciled for the sake of their child. Your husband is doing good business, he will take care of you. Why are you still talking about his beatings? I know you have undergone pain. But that is nothing in front of what you undergo as a woman. I have not undergone such pain. But madam (Justice BS Indrakala) has.”

The court asked the woman if her parents were present, at which her father walked up to the bench. The judge remarked, “Ask your father if he has never beaten your mother!” When the woman said her husband would beat her in the open, in front of everyone, Justice Bhaktavatsala remarked that it was she who was bringing it out in the open. The court was told that the husband would beat her in the middle of the night and had thrown her out of the house.

When the woman’s advocate produced photographs showing her swollen face, the court said, “You have to adjust. Are you just behind money? There is nothing in your case to argue on merits. You have to give him a divorce or go with him. Have you read about actor Darshan. He spent 30 days in jail after beating his wife. But they are living together now. What is on your mind and what is on your agenda?” The court directed the couple to go out and talk to each other.

This is just not an isolated case in another case reported , a young advocate had not imagined she would be receiving a lesson on married life when she took up a case on behalf of an estranged wife. She was summarily told by Justice K Bhaktavatsala that she was unfit to argue a matrimonial case as she was unmarried. While the lady advocate was citing the allegations against the husband, Justice Bhaktavatsala stopped her midway and asked, “Are you married?” When she replied in the negative, the judge said, “You are unfit to argue this case. You do not know real life. Why are you arguing like this? He is your (client’s) partner,not a stranger.Family matters should be argued only by married people, not spinsters. You should only watch. Bachelors and spinsters watching family court proceedings will start thinking if there is any need to marry at all. Marriage is not like a public transport system. You better get married and you will get very good experince to argue such cases.”However, despite the peace making efforts of the court,the case remained unresolved.

In another case, in a bid to unite a couple who are seeking divorce he directed the duo to spend two days at Bangalore Club. The techie couple have been trying to get a divorce for the past five years.Justice Bhaktavatsala asked the woman to take her husband to her house and spend two days along with their daughter and return after two days but she refused saying that, her reputation would get “spoiled”. Later the judge asked the man to take his wife to his house but he also refused saying, “his mother would faint at the first look of his wife”. Then Justice Bhaktavatsala suggested that the couple stay in a Bangalore club with their daughter and parents. He said all arrangements for it would be done by the counsel and added “let this be a progress of family union”.

Last year in a a habeas corpus petition by a Bangalore resident seeking reunion with his newly married wife, who he claimed was being illegally detained by her parents, Justice Bhaktavatsala had recommended that the Hindu Marriage Act be changed so that a girl under 21 cannot marry without permission of her parents. Presently the law requires the girl to be 18yrs. In a case of marriage by choice he sent the boy to jail.

I am extremely disturbed at these comments that appear to advocate silence and acquiescence of women who are subject to violence within the family. Also, to suggest that the woman was seeking a divorce to gain some monetary advantage is, apart from trivializing her travails, a complete misconception as single mothers and divorced women suffer immense financial setbacks.If this is the response to women who struggle against stigma and fear to speak up about domestic violence, their confidence in obtaining justice will also be shaken. Such views are retrograde and against the tenets of the Constitution of India.

I urge you not to give matrimonial cases to Justice Bhaktavatsala, so that there will be no miscarriage of justice in all cases relating to women because of such biased views.

your sincerely

Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Human rights and women rights activist

Mumbai.

6th September 2012

 

Why Justice Bhaktavatsala’s homilies are no better than TV serials #VAW #gender #justice


by  Sep 5, 2012, Firstpost

Justice Bhaktavatsala could be straight out of an ’80s Bollwyood film. At least, the Karnataka High Court judge, does uncannily sound like the wiry, death-bed bound mother stereotype who would advise her trembling, weepy, ketchup smeared daughter to go back to her monster mother-in-laws typified by the likes of Bindu and Shashikala.

For those wondering why a High Court judge might have invited that unfortunate a comparison, one has to check out the Facebook page Remove Justice Bhaktavatsala. The description section reads, “ Justice Bhaktavasala encourages women to stay in a violent relationship, for sake of marriage”. Strange, but true.

Justice Bhaktavatsala. Photo courtesy: Facebook page  Remove  Justice Bhaktavatsala.

Bhaktavatsala in the past couple of days has managed to amuse, outrage and shock people with his courtroom oratory. An example:

“Women suffer in all marriages. You are married with two children, and know what it means to suffer as a woman. Yesterday, there was a techie couple who reconciled for the sake of their child. Your husband is doing good business, he will take care of you.” 

If that wasn’t enough fodder for ridicule, one has to hear what he has to say about unmarried lawyers arguing marriage-related cases.

Family matters should be argued only by married people, not spinsters. You should only watch. Bachelors and spinsters watching family court proceedings will start thinking if there is any need to marry at all. Marriage is not like a public transport system. You better get married and you will get very good experience to argue such cases,” he advised her.

Justice Bhaktavatsala’s tragedy, however, is less how he turned himself up to be torn apart by feminists, more that he is a judge and not an Indian TV serial. One that beams in every second Indian home, six days a week, minting money out of ridiculous ideas of relationships, that best suits kangaroo courts in Indian badlands.

The judge’s concept of marriage and its attendant responsibility, which requires the woman to dump self-respect for ‘adjustments’, is similar to what Indian TV feeds millions of Indian audiences every day – and in the process earns crores-worth advertisements, deals etc.

There’s an online petition that is being circulated through the Facebook page, that will be eventually submitted to SC chief justice SH Kapadia, demanding Justice Bhaktavatsala be banned from continuing at his post. Hopefully, Bhaktavatsala will be chastised enough to keep his moth-eaten wisdom trapped in his gullet. But we’ll still have prime-time entertainment TV. Sigh.

Petition to Chief Justice of India- Remove Justice Bhaktavatsala ‘ Kindly Adjust” #Vaw #Gender #Justice


 

A judge’s obligation to the public starts and ends with his or her analysis of the law, its correct use, not with the preaching of personal beliefs or preferences. Chief Justice S H. Kapadia once said, “High Courts and the Supreme Court are courts of principles. The judges should not speak anything beyond the principles of a particular case. Let us not give lectures to the society. The problem is sometimes we judges impose our own values, our own likes or dislikes on the society”. The Karnataka High Court seems to have missed this message. The comments made by Justice Bhaktavatsala in various domestic violence and divorce court proceedings recently are perpetuating the myth of patriarchy and his opinions going beyond the legal scope..The judges are supposed to protect and enforce human rights of the citizens , but here we have a judge who is against women rights and even encouraging them to continue to stay in a violent relationship. Such views are retrograde and against the tenets of the Constitution of India.

I am shocked at the comments made by Justice Bhaktavatsala of Karnataka , High Court, in various domestic violence and divorce cases recently are perpetuating the myth of patriarchy and his opinions are unconstitutional The judges are supposed to protect and enforce human rights of the citizens , but here we have a judge who is against women rights and even encouraging them to continue to stay in a violent relationship.

According to media reports on August 31, he went out of his way to counsel a young woman whose stated reason for not living with her husband was that he used to beat her. Justice Bhaktavatsala said, “Women suffer in all marriages. You are married with two children, and know what it means to suffer as a woman. Yesterday, there was a techie couple who reconciled for the sake of their child. Your husband is doing good business, he will take care of you. Why are you still talking about his beatings? I know you have undergone pain. But that is nothing in front of what you undergo as a woman. I have not undergone such pain. But madam (Justice BS Indrakala) has.”

The court asked the woman if her parents were present, at which her father walked up to the bench. The judge remarked, “Ask your father if he has never beaten your mother!” When the woman said her husband would beat her in the open, in front of everyone, Justice Bhaktavatsala remarked that it was she who was bringing it out in the open. The court was told that the husband would beat her in the middle of the night and had thrown her out of the house.

When the woman’s advocate produced photographs showing her swollen face, the court said, “You have to adjust. Are you just behind money? There is nothing in your case to argue on merits. You have to give him a divorce or go with him. Have you read about actor Darshan. He spent 30 days in jail after beating his wife. But they are living together now. What is on your mind and what is on your agenda?” The court directed the couple to go out and talk to each other.

This is just not an isolated case in another case  reported , a young advocate had not imagined she would be receiving a lesson on married life when she took up a case on behalf of an estranged wife. She was summarily told by Justice K Bhaktavatsala that she was unfit to argue a matrimonial case as she was unmarried. While the lady advocate was citing the allegations against the husband, Justice Bhaktavatsala stopped her midway and asked, “Are you married?” When she replied in the negative, the judge said, “You are unfit to argue this case. You do not know real life. Why are you arguing like this? He is your (client’s) partner,not a stranger.Family matters should be argued only by married people, not spinsters. You should only watch. Bachelors and spinsters watching family court proceedings will start thinking if there is any need to marry at all. Marriage is not like a public transport system. You better get married and you will get very good experince to argue such cases.”However, despite the peace making efforts of the court,the case remained unresolved.

In another case,  in a bid to unite a couple who are seeking divorce he directed the duo to spend two days at Bangalore Club. The techie couple have been trying to get a divorce for the past five years.Justice Bhaktavatsala asked the woman to take her husband to her house and spend two days along with their daughter and return after two days but she refused saying that, her reputation would get “spoiled”. Later the judge asked the man to take his wife to his house but he also refused saying, “his mother would faint at the first look of his wife”. Then Justice Bhaktavatsala suggested that the couple stay in a Bangalore club with their daughter and parents. He said all arrangements for it would be done by the counsel and added “let this be a progress of family union”.

Last year in a a habeas corpus petition by a Bangalore resident seeking reunion with his newly married wife, who he claimed was being illegally detained by her parents, Justice Bhaktavatsala  had recommended that the Hindu Marriage Act be changed so that a girl under 21 cannot marry without permission of her parents. Presently the law requires the girl to be 18yrs. In a case of marriage by choice he sent the boy to jail.

I am extremely disturbed at these comments that appear to advocate silence and acquiescence of women who are subject to violence within the family. Also, to suggest that the woman was seeking a divorce to gain some monetary advantage is, apart from trivializing her travails, a complete misconception as single mothers and divorced women suffer immense financial setbacks.If this is the response to women who struggle against stigma and fear to speak up about domestic violence, their confidence in obtaining justice will also be shaken. Such views are retrograde and against the tenets of the Constitution of India.

There should be an  inquiry into the remarks passed by the judge  to ensure that there will be no miscarriage of justice in all cases relating to women because of such biased views.  He should be removed ,as a gender insensitive judge, is perpetuating stereotypes and the patriarchal values which women have been fighting for years and are still fighting.

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