Says criminal justice system has failed to protect their rights

The criminal justice system has failed to protect the rights of women, who are often victims of violence and discrimination, Supreme Court Judge Ranjana P. Desai said here on Saturday.

“The police, prosecutors, courts, in fact, the entire criminal administration justice system has failed to give relief to women though the Constitution zealously protects women and though several enactments seek to achieve … gender justice.”

Society has also not been responsive to their cry for justice, Ms. Justice Desai said delivering the key note address at the inauguration of national conference of the All India Federation of Women Lawyers.

Violence against women cuts across all religions, races, castes and communities. Discrimination against women had become a global phenomenon.

Annually, millions of female foetuses were destroyed and the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 had failed to achieve its object. Conviction rate of registered cases was very low.

Justice P. Sathasivam of the Supreme Court, in his inaugural address, said that the judiciary was performing the role of a social reformer and pointed out that it was taking care of the problems and interests of women.

“In the context of gender justice and equality, the judiciary has attempted to venture into the critical role of a social reformer by upholding the rights of women, especially the victims of sub-ordination and suppression. Judiciary has played its role both as a court of judicial restraint and as a progressive, dynamic, creative and proactive institution for social, economic and cultural transformation.”

Chief Justice of the Madras High Court M.Y. Eqbal said that in the West women had to fight even for a right to vote, but so far as India is concerned, the Constitution has given them equal rights. Article 42 of the Constitution of India imposed a fundamental duty on every citizen through Article 15A (e) to renounce the practices derogatory to the dignities of women.

Justice D. Murugesan of the Madras High Court; Jayanthi Natarajan, Union Minister; and C.Ve. Shanmugam, Minister for School Education, Sports and Youth Welfare, Law, Courts and Prisons were among those who spoke.

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