Khap panchayats oppose marriage in same gotra to control landholdings #Vaw #Honorkillings


Dictated by land
Author(s): Richard Mahapatra, down to earth
Date: Nov 30, 2012

It was a season of sons-in-law in Haryana. In October, the
Congress-ruled state government scrambled to clean its records in the
face of alleged undue favours to Robert Vadra, son-in-law of the party
president Sonia Gandhi. That month, khap panchayats, or the
traditional caste panchayats notorious for their diktats in the name
of honouring social customs, also grabbed headlines. They wanted to
regulate the selection of sons-in-law as per their archaic beliefs. On
October 29, leaders of 29 khaps met in Rohtak and demanded banning
same-gotra, same-village marriages under the Hindu Marriage Act.

These seemingly unrelated developments have common roots—land. That
Haryana’s land has turned rare earth is no news. But its repercussion
on society is what the world is discovering now. Vadra, though not a
resident son-in-law, reportedly made windfall gains from land deals in
the state. Analysts say khaps now do not want their resident
sons-in-law to take away the newfound gold. Their obvious targets are
daughters and laws that allow them legal share in ancestral property.

Khaps largely exercise their authority over the Jat community of big
landholders around Delhi, including some districts of Haryana, Uttar
Pradesh and Rajasthan. Traditionally, in these areas marriage is not
allowed within the gotra, which loosely means a sub-caste or clan. But
khaps extend this prohibition to all inhabitants of a village and its
adjacent villages, including individuals from different gotras.
According to khaps, they are deemed siblings due to proximity of
residence and are bound by bhaichara or brotherhood. Strangely, their
diktats apply only to women.

They do not oppose men marrying in same gotras or other castes.
Perhaps they cannot afford to do it. In Haryana’s six
districts—Jhajjar, Rohtak, Jind, Panipat, Gurgaon and Sonipat—where
khaps are active, sex ratio is the lowest in the country: there are
850-870 females per 1,000 males. Such is the scarcity of eligible
brides in the state that men now “buy” brides from faraway Odisha,
Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Nepal. According to sociologist Ravinder
Kaur, 37 per cent of eligible men remain bachelor in the state.

Analysts say such woman-centric codes on marriage are to control the
family’s ownership over land (see ‘Khap panchayat’s codes…’). Khap
members have an instilled fear that in case of marriage by choice, the
girl or her husband would stake claim in ancestral property. By
declaring girls and boys of the same village and adjacent villages as
siblings, they lessen the possibility of young individuals getting
into matrimonial alliance. Experience shows, in an arranged marriage,
girls do not demand share in parental property. Moreover, if a girl is
married several villages away, the possibility of her exercising
inheritance rights becomes remote. They also oppose marriage between
majority and minority gotras as the majority gotra administers a
village and owns most of the land.

Khap panchayat’s codes on marriage

Not in same gotra: By banning same gotra marriage in a village, khaps
ensure that married women do not exercise their inheritance rights on
parental property
Not in bhaichara: Khaps then extend the diktat to several adjacent
villages by declaring boys and girls from those villages siblings and
ruling out marriage alliance among them
Not between majority and minority gotras: By not allowing girls from
majority gotra to marry into a minority gotra, the diktat protects
land of majority gotras who own maximum land in a village.

According to a study by the International Institute for Population
Sciences, Mumbai, the status of women in the family is worsening with
changing economic structure, reforms and mode of production. This is
more so in the National Capital Region (NCR) where the impact of
economic reforms was first felt. Explains Perianayagam Arokiasamy, who
did the study, “Usually larger landholdings are associated with less
autonomy for women.”

Women rights activist Jagmati Sangwan says khaps create false
impression that they are opposed to same-gotra marriage because it is
incestuous. They actually oppose the woman’s right to choose a life
partner. A study commissioned by the National Commission of Women
found that 72 per cent of the khap-dictated honour killings were
related to inter-caste marriages, while those related to same-gotra
marriages were only three per cent. “As couples are selectively
targeted, it is clear that the real motive of khap panchayats is to
control women’s sexuality to ensure that property remains within the
patriarchal caste domain,” Sangwan adds.

Small wonder khaps have lately been vocal about the two pieces of
legislation that allow a woman to marry as per her choice and secure
her rights over ancestral property: the Hindu Marriage Act and the
Hindu Succession Act. The marriage law does not recognise the gotra or
caste system and thus does not prohibit marriage within the gotra or
in other caste. The Hindu Succession Act, amended in 2005, gives
daughters equal rights in the ancestral property along with sons. It
also gives her the right to seek partition of the dwelling house she
inherits. The previous law gave daughters an equal right only in
self-acquired property of her father and a partial right in ancestral
property. It restricted her right in a dwelling house, in which the
joint family lived. The amendment in 2005 also deleted a section,
which exempted Land Reforms Act, Land Ceiling Act and laws relating to
devolution of tenancies in agricultural land, from the Hindu
Succession Act. These state laws favoured male lineal descendants over
wives and daughters.

Down To Earth spoke to a dozen khap panchayat members in Haryana about
the Hindu Succession Act. None was willing to speak on record, but
said the debate on sharing landholdings with married daughters has
gained momentum since the amendment in 2005. The first such meeting
took place in Rohtak in July 2005, which was attended by 21 khap
panchayats. “The law allows daughters to have rights over property of
their parents, in-laws and also retain individual property. Why does
one need to give so many rights to women?” asks Meher Singh Jhakar,
general secretary of Jhakar Khap, which exercises its authority over
36 villages in Jhajjar district in Haryana. “The new generation has
new expectations that confront the traditional ways. If constitution
of the UK can accept conventions as key provisions why can’t the khap
principles be accepted here?”

Obsession with land

Jats, the way we see them now, as big landholders, are the creation of
centuries of fight over land (see ‘Nomads to landlords’). They opposed
the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 over and again and used political
leadership to prevent fragmentation of their land.

In 1967, within months of its formation as a new state, Haryana passed
a resolution, requesting the Centre to amend the Act. Punjab followed
suit. The Centre did not oblige. In 1979, the Haryana Assembly passed
a bill, amending the Act unilaterally, and sent it for the President’s
approval. The President did not give his assent. Ten years later in
1989, renowned farmers’ leader from Haryana, Chaudhary Devi Lal,
proposed an amendment to the Act during his tenure as the deputy prime
minister. The demand was dropped following protests.

Haryana and five other states, including Punjab and Rajasthan, which
have active khaps, denied equal inheritance rights for women in
parental property, especially in agricultural land, until the 2005
amendment to the Succession Act.

Going by media reports, khap panchyats did not issue militant diktats
against women until 2005. This is the time the NCR witnessed a boom in
property rate and became the country’s largest residential market.
Currently, it has more housing units than the combined tally of
Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Hyderabad. But since their
opposition to the succession law did not work out, khap panchayats now
focus on the Hindu Marriage Act to bring in provisions to stop
same-gotra marriage to retain land within the family boundary.

Nomads to landlords

Nomads to landlords Once a nomadic pastoral community, Jats settled in
Jhajjar, Rohtak, Jind, Panipat, Gurgaon and Sonipat districts of
Haryana in the early 13th century. Then the land was barren. The
Mamluk, Khilji, Tughlaq, Sayyid and Lodi dynasties that ruled Delhi
during the period introduced rahat, or Persian wheel system of
irrigation, in the area.

This fuelled green revolution and transformed Jat pastoralists into
agricultural peasants. Agriculture in the region became more lucrative
after Muhammand Bin Tughlaq constructed the Western Yamuna Canal. With
this newfound prosperity, Jats organised themselves into a powerful
clan, seeding the khap panchayat concept.

Soon they became the rulers’ revenue collectors and colonised more
land. It is said that Akbar elevated some khap members to the status
of ministers to integrate the Jat community into his empire

 

#India- Khap panchayats of Haryana demand changes in Hindu marriage Act #WTFnews #Vaw


Deepender Deswal, TNN Oct 29, 2012,
(Khap panchayats of Haryana…)

ROHTAK: The notorious khap panchayats of Haryana on Sunday demanded a legal ban on same-gotra and same-village marriages, saying such a measure could solve the problem of rising crime against women.

Leaders of 30 khap panchayats who met in Rohtak passed a resolution calling for an amendment in the Hindu Marriage Act to bring the ban on such marriages into effect.

The leaders vowed to take up this demand at the highest level and said they would visit Delhi next month for submitting their representations to the President, Prime Minister and the Union law minister.

The meeting, held at the Chhotu Ram Dharamshala, was hosted by Rohtak’s Chorasi khap and presided over by its leader, Hardeep Ahlawat.

Terming modern culture as “obscene”, the leaders said the state’s social fabric had been vitiated because people were “blindly following so-called modernization which is the root cause of crime against women and incidents of rape”.

“The minds of the younger generation have been corrupted due to invasion of obscene and vulgar culture. Our youngsters have forgotten the rich values and customs of our society,” said Baljit Malik of Gathwala khap.

Addressing the meeting, Hardeep Ahlawat demanded a change in the law to ban matrimonial ties between couples from same gotras and same villages — traditionally viewed as brothers and sisters.

“A legal ban on such marriages would also help curb the menace of honour killings and female feticide which has brought a bad name to Haryanvi society,” said Om Prakash Dhankar, a khap leader.

Other leaders argued that there would not be any honour killings or female foeticide if same-gotra marriages were banned. “People kill their daughters out of the fear that one day they might elope with men of the same gotra,” said Dhankar.

“A delegation of khap panchayat would visit Delhi on November 5 with copies of our memorandum to be handed over to India’s top leaders. We would also call on the national commission for women the same day and asked it to raise the demand,” he added.

The khap leaders distanced themselves from a recent statement of a khap mahapanchayat spokesman who had sought lowering of the marriageable age of girls from 18 to 16 years to avoid rapes. The leaders said such statements had been spoiling the image of khap panchayats.

“We strongly differ with such people. We have decided to launch social awareness campaign against extravagant marriages, dowry etc in society,” he said.

 

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.

 

Girls fall in love due to hormonal imbalance- download judgement #bhaktavatsala


 

Last year  in a hard-hitting judgment, the Karnataka High Court  dismissed a habeas corpus petition filed by a Bangalore resident seeking reunion with his newly married wife, who he claimed was illegally detained by her parents.

Observing that a girl below the age of 21 years cannot judge the character of a person she marries, the Division Bench comprising Justice Bhaktavatsala and Justice Govindaraju directed police to lodge a suo motu kidnapping case against the petitioner, Avinash of Sudhama Nagar.

The court further observed that a girl below 21 years of age must have the consent of the parents for her marriage. “Parents should choose the boy for a girl aged below 21, as it is they who bear the brunt of an unsuccessful marriage,” the Bench said.

Terming as void Avinash’s marriage with the girl without her parents’ consent, the court levied a cost of Rs 10,000 on him. “The court cannot shut its eyes even when police fail to initiate action,” the Bench said. On the petitioner’s contention of illegal detention, the court said, “Parents keeping the child with them does not amount to illegal detention.”

The girl’s parents had lodged a complaint of kidnapping on February 7, 2011, with the Wilson Garden Police after their minor daughter, a second PU student, went missing on February 2 while on her way to college. Avinash had taken her to Krishnagiri where he married her on March 3, 2011, after she turned 18 on March 1.

On returning to Bangalore on March 28, he appeared before the police, who brokered peace between the two families by ensuring that the boy got to meet the girl twice a day and appeared before the police daily. However, when the girl’s parents refused to abide by the deal and denied him permission to meet his wife, he filed a habeas corpus plea.

When the matter came up for hearing on Thursday, the Bench lashed out at the petitioner saying, “This is (the marriage) nothing but a case of kidnapping. If the marriage fails, the girl will return to her parents who are the actual sufferers.”

The Bench said that parents protecting their child was not illegal detention. “The Hindu Marriage Act is not a contract. It needs permission from parents. (Avinash’s case) is nothing but misuse of the girl and her age,” the court said.

Stating that it would take a decision in the interest of the people, the court observed orally, “If it was love, you should wait. Why should you elope? He (boy) will not carry the sin. The girls are the sufferers.”

Taking the police to task, the court said, “Police don’t behave like human beings. You cannot decide on such matters. Who are you to decide? You are just adding fuel to fire.”

When counsel for the respondents K N Puttegowda submitted that it was the third love affair for the boy, the Bench asked Avinash: “Why did you go to Tamil Nadu? To see tsunami? This kind of people should be hanged.”

The court dismissed the matter and directed the Wilson Garden Police to take Avinash into custody immediately.

 the judgment cited was issued in the high court on May 12, 2011: “We have seen many cases of run-away love marriages and untold misery and hardship of the parents and the girls. All the love marriages are not successful. In the event of failure of the love marriage of the girl, it is the girl and her parents who have to suffer…The girls, later on, realise their mistake that they were hasty in love marriage and repent at leisure. (sic)”

This was the text of the judgment signed by justices K Bhakthavatsala and K Govindarajulu as they heard the petition of a resident of Sudhamanagar, Avinash.

The man had pleaded that the court issue a writ of habeas corpus, directing the father of the girl to produce before the court his ‘legally wedded wife,’ Sanghavi.

Avinash and Sanghavi had married on March 2, 2011, without the consent of their parents.

The father of the girl lodged a missing person complaint, and Avinash, in a bid to have his ‘wife’ returned to him, had filed another complaint.

However, in that case, Avinash had not turned 21 at the time of the marriage, so had not attained the age when a man could legally wed. Sanghavi too had not turned 18, when a woman is allowed to marry legally.

Delivering a judgment in this case, on May 12, 2011  the judges ruled, “In our opinion, the girls below the age of 21 years are not capable of forming a rational judgment… It is relevant to mention that those girls, who are suffering from hormonal imbalance, easily fall prey to the boys and fall in love, marry and repent at leisure… the Hindu Marriage Act does not deal with love marriages … In our opinion, Parliament had not taken into account the love marriages when the Bill was introduced…”

Download the judgement below

Karnataka high court HMA

 

WATCH AN ANIMATION ON THE JUDGEMENT

Love , HORMONES, Marriage- Justice Bhaktavatsala

 

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

 

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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