New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought response from two advocates, representing the December 16 gangrape convicts, against whom a women lawyers body has sought action for allegedly making derogatory remarks against women in a BBC documentary on the case.
"We have heard the argument, pleadings and grievances urged in the petition. The matter requires consideration in view of the factual and legal submissions," a bench comprising justices V Gopala Gowda and C Nagappan said. The bench issued notices to the two advocates, M L Sharma and A P Singh, and sought their response in two weeks. The Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association, in its petition, had sought restriction on the entry of the two advocates in the apex court premises, alleging that their remarks in the controversial BBC 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 laywers association. Senior advocate Vibha Datta Makhija, appearing the women's association, submitted that the Supreme Court has 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 comments were made in the BBC documentary 'India's Daughter' on the December 16, 2013 gangrape incident. 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 court's direction to Sharma and Singh to issue public apology in 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 be also 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. It is much more than a crime, the petition said.