The Supreme Court of India has introduced a handbook aimed at guiding judges to refrain from using gender stereotypical language in their legal proceedings. This initiative encourages the avoidance of terms such as "career woman," "fallen woman," "housewife," "Indian woman/western woman," and "child prostitute." The objective is to promote more inclusive and respectful communication within the legal system. The highest court in India has provided a list of recommended or substitute terms that can be employed in legal proceedings. For instance, the court suggests using "clothing" instead of "provocative clothing," "mother" in place of "unwed mother," "woman" as an alternative to "whore," and "unmarried woman" in lieu of "spinster." This initiative aims to enhance the use of respectful and unbiased language within the legal context.
Today, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud unveiled a handbook titled "Combating Gender Stereotypes." In his statement, he highlighted that the handbook is designed to aid judges and the legal community in recognizing and mitigating gender stereotypes related to women. Within the handbook, there exists an extensive glossary featuring over 100 terms that have been prevalent within the Indian judiciary system for an extended period. These terms have now been substituted with phrases and words that are devoid of any associated stereotypes.
Additionally, the handbook emphasizes the authoritative rulings of the Supreme Court that have dismissed these stereotypes. Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, noted that adopting this new terminology will effectively preclude biases and unfounded criticisms from being directed at any judgments.
"This is about stereotypes about women in legal discourse. It identifies stereotypes used by courts and how they are unwittingly used. (It is) not to cast aspersion on judgments. It will help judges to avoid it by recognising language which leads to stereotypes. It highlights binding decisions which have highlighted (sic) the same." he said.
The e-filing tutorial has been made available on the Supreme Court's official website, and it will be succeeded by the handbook's release. In a recent development, the Chief Justice of India has sanctioned the implementation of gender-neutral restrooms and online appearance slips within the Supreme Court premises. A total of nine universal and gender-neutral restrooms are planned for construction across various points in both the main building and the additional building complex of the Supreme Court.
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