Friday, October 22, 2010

‘Keep’ is cheap-Indira Jaising

‘Keep’ is cheap-Indira Jaising
October 23, 2010 1:57:32 AM

Abraham Thomas | New Delhi

ASG says SC should delete offensive word from ruling

A day after the Supreme Court gave a historic decision depriving a woman who is a “keep” from maintenance in a live-in relationship, a senior woman law officer derided the judges for using such “derogatory” expression and demanded it to be expunged.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Indira Jaising, the first woman ASG, instrumental in drafting some of the pro-women legislations in the country, including the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act 2005, felt offended with the use of the term “keep” in the body of the Apex Court decision.

On spotting her in court, the Bench of Justices Markandey Katju and TS Thakur in a jocular vein sought her comments on the decision by saying, “You are the author of the Domestic Violence Act,” and invited her comment on their decision defining the kind of live-in relationship entitled for alimony under Section 20 of the Domestic Violence Act.

Jaising retorted saying, “I have had a role to play in drafting the law, but I must say I have read the full text of the judgment and I have strong objection against the use of words ‘keep’ and ‘one night stand’.”

Silenced by such criticism of their controversial judgement, the junior judge on the Bench, Justice Thakur, sought to ease the situation by suggesting that the use of word “concubine” could have been appropriate.

But Jaising was not pacified. An elected member of Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, a global woman body that receives reports from all countries including India, Jaising said she was appalled at the use of such terms by the highest court of the land.

“Basically by saying woman is a “keep” we are demeaning the status of a woman… I don’t expect this from the Supreme Court in the 21st century. If this is the way the courts feel about women, I must say I feel offended,” she said.

By this point, the embarrassment of the judges was not hidden as it persuaded her to focus on the case she had to argue relating to a service matter. Speaking to The Pioneer, Jaising later regretted having made public her displeasure about the judgment. “I believe somebody should file an application for expunging these remarks,” she said, adding, “the law prevailing globally on the subject seeks to eliminate any form of discrimination that stereotypes women.”

With the judges shell-shocked by the torrent of protest, that too coming from a senior counsel of good standing on women issues, the Bench reluctantly conveyed to Jaising, “It is open for you to file a review application.”

Not relenting, Jaising argued: “Will the court ever say that a man is a keep of a woman… so there is an element of discrimination.”

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