Two lawyers issued notice for anti-women remarks on 'India's Daughter'

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today asked the two advocates representing the 16 December gangrape convicts to respond to the charges that they allegedly made derogatory remarks against women in a BBC documentary India’s Daughter by Leslee Udwin.

Justices V Gopala Gowda and C Nagappan issued notices to the two advocates M L Sharma and A P Singh and sought their response in two weeks following a petition by the Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association.

"We have heard the argument, pleadings and grievances urged in the petition. The matter requires consideration in view of the factual and legal submissions," the Court said.

The Association had sought restriction on the entry of the two advocates in the apex court premises, alleging that their remarks in the controversial documentary were "inhumane, scandalous, unjustifiable, biased, outrageous, ill-minded" and are a "direct affront to and in violation of the dignity of women,” especially those practicing in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) supported the plea of Women Lawyers association.

Senior advocate Vibha Datta Makhija representing the Women's Association urged the Court to lead from the front and show zero tolerance for such views. "We need an environment where we are fearless," she said and added that the two advocates need to be sensitised.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for SCBA, submitted that there should be a meaningful and proper implementation of gender sensitisation regulation. He said, "SCBA has taken a unanimous decision to take action against Sharma." 

The petition had sought protection of fundamental rights, guaranteed under the Constitution, of the female advocates practicing in the apex court to work with dignity and without any gender bias.

The petition filed through advocate Mahalakshmi Pavani has made Chairperson of Gender Sensitisation Committee and Registrar of the apex court as parties and submitted a transcript of the two lawyers' comments.

It also sought the court's direction to make Sharma and Singh issue a public apology in the media for holding and making public views, which are "absolutely derogatory to the dignity of women" and refraining from issuing such statements in future. The two advocates also be directed to retract their statements and their apology should also be included in the BBC documentary, the petition had said.

The Association represented by secretary Prerna Kumari had said in the petition that the remarks made by the two advocates showed they do not have respect for any woman and do not see them as more than an object. It had added that the conduct of these lawyers showed complete absence of any concern for society and utter disregard of the Constitutional values and human rights of women besides the ethics and etiquette of the Bar.

The petition said the lawyers should retract their statements and their apology should be included in the BBC documentary.

It had added that the conduct of these lawyers showed complete absence of any concern for society and utter disregard of the Constitutional values and human rights of women besides the ethics and etiquette of the Bar. It is much more than a crime, the petition said. 

Although it has been banned in India and NDTV could not screen the film as slated on 8 March, it continues to be available on the Internet and has been aired more than two times by BBC4, which is not seen in India, apart from some other countries have screened the film on International Women’s Day.

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