16 August 2023, Mumbai: The Supreme Court has unveiled a handbook aimed at countering gender stereotypes, designed to aid judges and the legal community in recognizing, comprehending, and addressing biases against women. The ‘Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes’ features a glossary of gender-biased terms and offers alternative language options for drafting legal documents like pleadings, orders, and judgments. The guide identifies prevalent misconceptions about women, often employed by courts in the past, highlighting their inaccuracy and potential to distort legal application.
Chief Justice Emphasizes Importance of Language in Law
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud underlined the significance of language in the legal field, stating that words convey the essence of legal values. He noted that language choices used by judges not only represent their interpretation of the law but also their perception of society. He stressed that relying on outdated or flawed notions about women while making judicial decisions goes against judges’ duty to impartially evaluate each case.
Tackling Gender Stereotypes for Equal Justice
Chandrachud pointed out that linguistic expressions reflecting outdated views about women hinder the progressive goals of the law and India’s Constitution, which aim to ensure equal rights regardless of gender. The handbook’s release is expected to stimulate the pursuit of a more equitable legal system. Chandrachud expressed hope that the handbook’s contents will be extensively read within the legal community, contributing to a gender-just legal framework and promoting equal justice for all.
Origins and Objectives of the Handbook
Notably, the handbook was conceived during the Covid-19 pandemic and was initially envisioned as part of the knowledge-sharing initiatives of the e-Committee of the Supreme Court. By addressing the pervasive issue of gender stereotypes in legal discourse, the handbook seeks to align judicial language and practice with the principles of equality enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
Championing Equitable Justice through Awareness
The release of the ‘Handbook on Combating Gender Stereotypes’ by the Supreme Court signifies a concerted effort to tackle ingrained biases in the legal system. By providing judges and legal practitioners with insights into recognizing and rectifying gender stereotypes, the handbook aims to foster a more inclusive and unbiased approach to delivering justice in India.