Gender-based assumptions lacking valid grounds contradict justice principles: Delhi HC
Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma underlined the principle of gender neutrality within the legal system, where every individual is held accountable for their actions in accordance with the law
Criticising a trial court's decision, the Delhi High Court has said that gender-based assumptions in favour of a female accused, lacking a substantive basis or valid grounds, are contrary to the fundamental principles of the justice system.
Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma underlined the principle of gender neutrality within the legal system, where every individual, regardless of gender, is held accountable for their actions in accordance with the law.
"Presumptions based on gender have no place within this framework, unless provided by law, as they undermine the pursuit of truth and justice,” Justice Sharma said.
She said that each person's involvement in a criminal act must be independently assessed based on the evidence and statements recorded by the prosecution, which should be placed before the court for consideration.
The court was hearing a revision plea by Delhi Police, challenging a trial court's decision to discharge four female accused in a kidnapping case.
While the trial court framed charges against five male individuals, it discharged the female accused, citing the absence of evidence that they had instigated the male accused, who were already armed.
Justice Sharma criticised the trial court for making unwarranted assumptions at the stage of framing charges, where it presumed that the female members could not have instigated or participated in the assault because the male members were already attacking the complainant.
The court noted that such differentiation between male and female accused was unjustifiable.
The court further said that in the absence of specific reasons for discharging the female accused at the charge framing stage, any gender-based presumption was unfounded, especially given the allegations against them of physically assaulting the complainant.
The judge set aside the trial court's order and remanded back the matter for a fresh decision on charges against the female accused, saying that this decision should be in line with legal principles and devoid of gender-based presumptions.
"This court is constrained to note that such differentiation was created by the learned Trial Court between the 'male accused persons' and the 'female accused persons',” the court said.
The judge also directed that a copy of this judgement be sent to all District and Sessions Judges in Delhi to ensure its circulation among the Judicial Officers in their courts. Additionally, it directed the forwarding of a copy to the Director (Academics) of the Delhi Judicial Academy for reference.