Deal sternly with crimes against women: chief justice

February 17th, 2008 - 11:55 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) Expressing grave concern over trafficking of women from the northeastern states, Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan Sunday asked the judiciary to sternly deal with people involved in committing crimes against women. Addressing a national conclave of the northeastern states “for access to justice to the woman of the region”, Chief Justice Balakrishnan also lamented the failure of the public distribution system in the region and called upon the local judiciary to be proactive in getting implemented the poverty alleviation programmes in the eight states.

Addressing the conclave, organized by the National Legal Service Authority, Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj stressed upon the need of a separate high court for each of the eight states in the northeast and promised on his part more women judges to provide the woman in the region greater access to justice.

Inaugurating the conclave, President Pratibha Patil also stressed upon the need of sensitizing judges, dealing with cases of violence, harassment or discrimination against women to ensure speedy justice.

“A matter of serious concern that requires immediate attention is the reports of instances of trafficking of women from Assam and other parts of the northeast,” said the chief justice and added: “Most of these women who are trafficked belong to the poorest strata of society.

“Crimes against women, such as rape and murder, also need to be dealt with a heavy hand by the judiciary. For this, it is necessary for the justice dispensation system to reach out to the grass-root level and remote areas and reduce legal marginalisation,” he said.

“Courts and administrators should feel that they have got a greater role to play in ensuring that the poverty alleviation programmes are effectively implemented. Citizens should feel that they are their protectors of their rights.”

Talking of women in the region, the chief justice said: “Their problems find no vent and relief when the justice system, often the last resort of the downtrodden, leaves them alienated from its doors and they are left frustrated and defenceless against all, in a state of haplessness.

“Moreover, the absence of an effective and coordinated policy in addressing these issues holistically renders the entire judicial organ incapable of ameliorating the dismal conditions of northeastern women,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, President Patil too sought sensitization of judges to be responsive in dealing with crimes against women.

“I had spoken about the need to have a judicial system that is more responsive to the needs of women. The judicial officers should be given necessary training to sensitize them that while dealing with cases of violence, harassment or discrimination against women they should ensure speedy justice,” she said.

“The message should be registered in society that those violating the dignity and rights of women will be dealt with immediately,” she added.

“The importance of simple procedures that can easily be understood cannot be over-emphasized with regard to access to justice to women. The procedures must be made and the delivery mechanisms brought nearer so that people gain better access to it,” the president said.

Speaking on the occasion, Law Minister Bhardwaj referred to the special constitutional status of the eight northeastern states, where lower judiciary and executive is not separated, and said that these states needed to have separate lower judiciary and executive like those in other states.

Referring to the ongoing process of establishing a separate high court for Nagaland, the law minister also wanted the governments of all other northeastern states to go in for having separate high courts of their own.

The law minister also promised more of women judges in various high courts, saying that in the Delhi High Court the number has grown to a respectable level.

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