Amid the growing clamour for gender justice, the Supreme Court on Thursday said it was time that judges changed their mindset and became sensitive to women's problems.
Coming down heavily on a Karnataka trial court in Karnataka for justifying a husband's physical assault on his wife despite the latter committing suicide, a bench comprising justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai observed: "There is a phenomenal rise in crimes against women. Protection granted to women by the Constitution of India and other laws can be meaningful only if those who are entrusted with the job of doing justice are sensitised towards women's problems."
Justice Desai, who authored the verdict convicting the husband for driving his wife to suicide by raising dowry demands, criticised the trial court judge for being insensitive. The Karnataka High Court had later reversed the verdict and convicted the husband.
"The tenor of the judgment suggests that wife-beating is a normal facet of married life. Does that mean giving one or two slaps to a wife by a husband does not matter? We do not think that can be a right approach," the court said.
It further added: "It is one thing to say that every wear and tear of married life need not lead to suicide but it is another thing to put it so crudely and suggest that one or two assaults on a woman is an accepted social norm. Judges have to be sensitive to women's problems."
The fast track court at Karwar, Karnataka, had on March 3, 2007 acquitted Vairesh Venkatray Anvekar and his
family members of dowry harassment and abetment to suicide. The state high court, however, convicted Vairesh's while reiterating the acquittal of others.
The apex court rejected Vairesh's appeal and agreed with the high court's decision. It said that assault on a woman offended her dignity and to make light of slaps given to the wife, resulting in loss of her eyesight, showed extreme insensitivity on the trial court's part.