The Supreme Court today issued notice to the office of Attorney General of India on a plea challenging Section 64 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) which, as per the Petitioner, discriminates against women by treating the female members of the family incapable of accepting the summons on behalf of the person summoned.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kolhi considered the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by Kush Kalra and asked the Petitioner's Advocate on Record Jyotika Kalra, "How are you aggrieved? You are just an Advocate. Let somebody who is aggrieved come here."

It was argued that the present form of provision is discriminatory and delays the delivery of justice jeopardizing the victim's right to speedy trial guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution. "Issue Notice. Issue Notice to learned Attorney General of India returnable in four weeks", ordered the Supreme Court.

It may be noted that Civil Procedure Code (CPC), enacted in 1908 required the summons to be served on any adult member of the defendant's family whereas Cr.P.C., which was enacted after 65 years of CPC, happens to be anarchic and dogmatic. Cr.P.C. does not consider an adult female member of the family capable and competent to receive summons. Order V Rule 15 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 (CPC) dealing with service of summons stipulates 'service may be on an adult member of defendant's family, the Petitioner has submitted.

As per the Petitioner, such exclusion of female family members to receive summons on behalf of the summoned person violates the women's right to equality guaranteed to them under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India, the right to know guaranteed to them under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India, and right to dignity guaranteed to them under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Earlier, in response to a petition filed in 2004 before Madras High Court, the Ministry of Law and Justice, Union of India, supported the non service of summons on females to protect their privacy. The Ministry also justified non service of summons on females keeping in mind Pardanashin females.

"Section 64 Cr.P.C. essentially fails to account for the following situations: When the person summoned resides only with the female family members or the only person available at the time of service of summons is a female. The possibility of such a situation is particularly high in light of the stark gender gap in the workforce between the males and the females, i.e., only 22% of the Indian women are at work, which entails that the remaining 78% of women are at home", read the petition.

Cause Title- Kush Kalra v. Union of India & Anr.