Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud has announced that a legal glossary to guide judges against the use of inappropriate gendered terms in legal discourse will be unveiled in the near future, and said that courts must ensure “zero tolerance” for improper use of language against women, reported Live Law.
“I have come across judgments which have referred to a woman as a ‘concubine’ when she is in a relationship,” the CJI said at an event organised by the Supreme Court Gender Sensitisation and Internal Complaints Committee on Wednesday to celebrate International Women’s Day, which was celebrated on March 8.
The CJI said that the legal glossary, prepared by a committee chaired by Calcutta High Court judge Justice Moushumi Bhattacharya, is “nearing completion” and will be unveiled soon.
He highlighted certain developments in the legal profession, including the increasing number of women judges in the country.
Speaking about the glossary, the CJI said this was a mission he undertook a few years ago, and added that glossary would contain a list of words and terms that judges must refrain from using in verdicts as well as in court proceedings.
“Unless we are open about these facets, it will be difficult for us to evolve as a society,” Justice Chandrachud said.
He also announced the creation of a large space for women lawyers in the top court’s annexe building which is about to be renovated.
The CJI had also said that there should be “zero tolerance for inappropriate behaviour” towards women.
“Even if part of those stories that I was told are believable, and I see no reason not to believe them because I think every one of them has a germ of trust, we need to ensure that there is zero tolerance for inappropriate behaviour towards women, use of inappropriate language in relation to women, and even on cracking inappropriate jokes in the presence of women,” the CJI was quoted as saying by Live Law.
Justice Hima Kohli, Justice BV Nagarathna, and former Supreme Court judge Indira Banerjee, were also in attendance at the event.
Earlier, speaking at the inaugural session of the American Bar Association (India) Conference 2023 on March 3, the CJI had said that reforms were needed in the legal profession, saying women needed a “level-playing field” to enter the legal profession.
“We have to create a framework for a more diverse and inclusive profession today if we truly have to create a future where our profession will be more inclusive and diverse,” he said.