The Bombay high court on Thursday issued a notice to the Union government over a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking that politicians must be directed to exercise self-restraint while making comments about women, especially in public speeches.
While the plea had sought that the court order all the national political parties to frame “guidelines on the same,” the High Court observed that it would be overreaching its jurisdiction in issuing any such orders to the legislature. However, considering that “everyone must show respect to women,” and not speak to them in an “unseemly manner,” the court agreed to hear the plea and thus, sought the union’s response.
The plea cited last year’s July 30 incident whereby, at a political rally in Rajasthan, Congress leader Gurudas Kamat had made “derogatory,” “abrasive,” and “misogynist” comments against HRD Minsiter Smriti Irani.
In his speech, Kamat had said, “If a Chaiwala can become the Prime Minister of this country then why can’t a ‘pochha lagane wali’(cleaning lady) become the education minister,” the plea reads.
The petitioner’s advocate Anubhav Ghosh, told the court that Kamat’s speech was just one such example and that “political leaders engage in such jibes in public view almost every day. What makes it worse is that these speeches or comments are then publicised through news stories and videos and reaches an even wider audience.
“Such comments are not only derogatory but also discourages a woman from entering politics. Guidelines have to be framed by the Union Ministryof Women and Child Welfare Development to address the issue,”he said.
The bench, however, said the high court can not direct the legislature to frame a law or policy, but, agreed that the political parties should have a consensus on this issue.
“Decorum has to be maintained by everyone and not just politicians when it comes to women. It is a question of
political will and self-restraint,” Justice Kanade said.
The Court has now asked the Union Ministry of Women and Child Welfare Department to respond to the PIL and is likely to take up the matter for further hearing after two weeks.