The Bombay high court on Thursday said politicians must maintain self-restraint and decorum while making statements on women.
A division bench headed by justice V M Kanade was hearing a public interest litigation filed by advocate Poornima Advani seeking direction to the Union government to frame guidelines for ministers, political parties and its members on how to give public speeches.
The PIL was filed in 2015 following an incident in which Congress leader and former minister Gurudas Kamat, while speaking at a political rally in Rajasthan, allegedly passed “derogatory, abrasive and misogynist” comments against Smriti Irani, the then Union human resource development minister.
“In his speech, Kamat made derogatory remarks against Smriti Irani and her education and also about her character,” the petition alleged.
Advocate Anubhav Ghosh, appearing for the petitioner, argued today that Kamat’s speech was just one example and that everyday some minister or political leader passes such derogatory comments.
“Such comments are not only derogatory but also discourage a woman from entering politics. Guidelines have to be framed by the Union ministry of women and child welfare development to address the issue,” he said.
The court, however, said the high court would not be in a position to direct the legislature to frame a law or policy.
“But the political parties should have a consensus on this issue. Decorum has to be maintained by everyone not just politicians when it comes to women. It is a question of political will and self-restraint,” Justice Kanade said.
The court further observed that often politicians make a statement and when the next day it appears in the media, they deny it or say they did not mean it or their comment was taken out of context.
The court on Thursday issued notices to the Union ministry of women and child welfare, law and justice and parliamentary affairs and posted the petition for further hearing after two weeks.