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.
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