In a rare public statement by a sitting Supreme Court judge, Justice Gyan Sudha Misra on Friday slammed the attack on dignity of women in the context of the recent Delhi gangrape.
Speaking exclusively to HT, she said an extraordinary situation demanded breaking the self-imposed code of silence for judges bound by their duties.
“Sitting judges seldom speak publicly. But enough is enough,” said Justice Misra, making it clear that she was expressing her personal opinion as a concerned citizen.
“Given the low credibility of the police in the country, it is time to fast-track the process of justice delivery, particularly in cases of heinous crimes against women,” said Justice Misra, who is among the only two women judges in the apex court."I have no hesitation saying that the Code for Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act need to be updated urgently. Let the outrage at the rape lead to a logical conclusion."
According to her, the statements of witnesses recorded by police should be done in presence of a judicial officer.
“The lengthy procedure of recording their statements for the second time should be done away with,” she said.
She said criminal laws should be amended to avoid witnesses from being influenced or intimidated.
“No second chance should be given. There is no problem in retaining the rights of accused to cross-examine witnesses, but recording statements at multiple stages makes no sense,” Justice Misra said.
Asked how crimes against women could be stopped, Justice Misra said, “Law enforcing agencies need to show more will power. Debate on fast-track courts can continue, but I feel it is important to provide fast-track justice.”
She admitted that being a serving judge, she has limitations in airing her views publicly.
“I cannot speak freely, but in this case I felt that even at the cost of being criticised, I must make it clear that the system needs to be more alert, cautious. Please tackle crimes against women very seriously.”