Judicial Activism and Women Empowerment In India
Gender injustice is a problem that is seen all over the world. Whatever the causes may be, it is our duty of humans to protect the human rights of those who are victims. Women have been ill-treated in every society for ages and India is no exception. Indian judiciary feel convinced of the need for women's empowerment-by law and by legal means. The Constitution of India has taken a long leap in the direction of eradicating the lingering effects of such adverse forces so far as women are concerned. Our Constitution makes express provision for affirmative action in favour of women. It prohibits all types of discrimination against women and lays a carpet for securing equal opportunity to women in all walks of life, including education, employment and participation.
According to analytical jurisprudence a court merely found the law or merely interpreted the law. Judges are applying the discretionary power to provide better justice to women in the new context of the Socio-Economic conditions. Judiciary has played an active role in enforcing and strengthening the constitutional goals towards protection/rights of the women of the land.
1. Air India vs. Nargesh Meerza
2. Vishakha vs. State of Rajasthan
3. Railway Board vs. Chandrima Das
4. Madhukar Narayan Mardikar vs. State of Maharashtra
5. Deelip Singh vs. State of Bihar
Not only the legislature but judiciary also plays a very vital and important role in case of women empowerment. The wide interpretation of provision of various legislations and also the provision of constitution, judiciary is able to empower the women. Another role of judiciary is the activist role which is popularly known as “Judicial Activism’’.
and 21. The court directed the State of Maharashtra to provide separate lock ups for female suspects guarded by female constables, ensure interrogation of females by female police officers. Legal assistance be provided to prisoners and a lady judge make periodical visits to police lock ups in the city of Bombay to hear grievances of women prisoners.
Hussainara Kahtoon v. State of Bihar was a landmark case in which the Court directed release of a large number of men and women awaiting trial in the courts. The Court held that delay in trial constitutes denial of justice and therefore the State should ensure speedy justice and provide legal aid to prisoners.
Role of Judicial Commission in Nirbhaya case:
The constitution of this committee was in response to the country wide peaceful outcry of civil society, led by the youth, against the failure of governance to provide a safe and dignified environment for the women of India, who are constantly exposed to sexual violence. The immediate cause was the brutal gang rape of a young woman in the heart of the nation’s capital in a public transport vehicle in the late evening of December 16, 2012. On December 23 2012 a three member Committee headed by Justice J.S Verma, was constituted to recommend amendment to the criminal law as to provide for quicker trail and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women. It made recommendations on laws related to rape, sexual harassment, trafficking, and child sexual abuse, medical examination of victims, police, electoral and educational reforms.
Recommendations of Verma Committee:
· Punishment for Rape
· Punishment for other sexual offences
· Registering complaints and medical examination
· Marriages to be registered
· Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure
· Review of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act
· Bill of Rights for women
· Police reforms
· Role of the judiciary
Judiciary is not transgressing upon or usurping the powers of the other two organs that is the legislature and the executive but it is the demand of the time. Being the guardian of the fundamental law of the land it tries to interpret the laws according to the principles enshrined in the Constitution. The emergence of this role of judiciary is the outcome of the depraved system, in a democracy where other two organs ended in a fiasco, the judiciary remained the last hope of the people. By using its discretionary power it tries to provide justice to women in socio-economic context.
"The judge infuses life and blood into the dry skeleton provided by the legislature and creates a living organism appropriate and adequate to meet the needs of the society."( Justice P.N. Bhagwati).
· Building public awareness and support is crucial for the judicial activism to be successful.
· The National Commission for Women and the National Human Rights Commission could be important allies in addressing violations of women’s rights.
· Judiciary should be more vigilant in protecting the rights of women
· Judiciary should take stringent decision in punishing the offenders
· Make more positive judgement in favour of women victims.
In “Shaanthi parva”, when Dharmaputhra requests Bheeshma to explain about the nature of women
‘Bheeshma explains women the women, who respects their husbands, worships elders and do their duties, sincerely with patience. the women are said as the mothers to the whole world, and it is also said that the house becomes a hell, where these women are not happy and these kind of women must be respected and treated kindly and Krishna also agrees this’.
1. S. P. Sathe : Judicial Activism in India ; Oxford University Press;
2. Dr. J.N. Pandey Constitutional Law of India; Central Law Agency; 41 edn 2004
3. M.P.Jain, Indian Constitutional Law 98 (Kamal Law House, Calcutta, 5th edn., 1998)
# 1979 AIR 1360
# Indian Penal Code – Ratanlal & Dhirajlal, Lexis Nexis 34th edn.
# Full report available here http://nlrd.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/121798698-Justice-Verma Committee. report.pdf