Observations Reek Of Patriarchy: Women Lawyers Write To CJI Objecting To Court's Oral Remarks Against Nupur Sharma
Similar remarks by men in past have not invoked such a response, says lady lawyers who say some men cannot stand the sight of a woman speaking boldly about controversial subjects.
Women Advocates from different parts of the country have written to Chief Justice N V Ramana urging him to intervene for withdrawal or clarification of the controversial remarks made by a Judges while hearing Nupur Sharma's plea seeking consolidation of FIRs against her.
"The observations of the Hon'ble judges, especially about Nupur Sharma's alleged "obstinate character" for not approaching the Magistrate first, reek of patriarchy", the representation says.
The letter says that "Many men have made controversial comments in past about different religions. However, none of those remarks has invoked the violent response that Nupur Sharma's comments have invoked, only because of the patriarchal mentality prevailing in the atmosphere and even high institutions".
"More than what Nupur Sharma said, it is who said it that has outraged some. Some men cannot stand the sight of a woman speaking boldly about controversial subjects", lady lawyers write the CJI.
The strongly worded letter also says, "Nupur Sharma is a young woman excelling in areas dominated by men, be it politics or legal profession. Such women need to be encouraged and supported. While we are not saying that illegalities, if any, committed by women should be pardoned, we strongly oppose attempts of patriarchal minds to trample on their rights".
The letter also raises the following objections to the oral observations by the Bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice J. B. Pardiwala:-
- Oral observations from the Apex Court, though are not binding, are capable of influencing the outcome of cases against Nupur Sharma.
- Oral observations put the life of Nupur Sharma and others who have supported her at increased risk.
- A person affected by an adverse oral observation has no remedy against it.
- Oral observation that Nupur Sharma should apologise violates her Fundamental Right to remain silent which is warranted under Article 20(3).
- Oral observations tacitly justify application of 'sharia criminal law' while our Constitution only recognizes uniform criminal law.
- Oral observations have a chilling effect on free speech and free political and religious discourse in the country.
- Filing of multiple FIRs arising out of the same telecast of the show is an abuse on the process and impermissible.
- Oral observations are against a well-considered judgment of the Madras High Court on an almost-same remark against the same religious figure.
- Oral observation may affect the investigation as well as trial of the present case and also cases of similar nature pending before the Courts across the Country.
The women lawyers say that the statements by the Bench is "unacceptable subversion of the Rule of Law and violations of rights of citizen and fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India".
"..as the custodian of the Constitution, we request you to intervene with an immediate effect to withdraw/issue clarification the aforesaid oral remarks so that faith of the public in the institution is maintained and so that no prejudice is caused to anyone by an act of the Hon'ble Court", the letter says.
The Bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice J. B. Pardiwala had dismissed Nupur Sharma's plea stating that the Petitioner is "permitted to withdraw the present writ petition with liberty to avail the alternate remedies available under the law", after making controversial remarks on the merits of the case against Sharma.
Apart from two Letter Petitions before the Chief Justice of India, one by social activist Ajay Gautam and the other by Vishnu Gupta seeking withdrawal of the oral observations, 15 retired judges, 77 retired bureaucrats and 25 retired Armed Forces officers have issued an open statement criticizing the oral remarks.