Published on: 25 November 2022 at 20:06 IST
While apologizing to four women litigants for the “insensitivity” shown by a lawyer who posed “humiliating questions” during their cross-examination in a property suit.
Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy of the Madras High Court made a rare gesture that called attention to the widespread misogyny that exists within the legal profession and throughout society as a whole.
In his judgment passed on Thursday, Justice Chakravarthy said that its time that the general set of laws was somewhat more sympathetic to disputants who moved toward the courts for equity.
“The judgment typically conceals this kind of insensitivity and errors that assail the character for the benefit of the public. However, I am forced to extract the information because such insensitive cross-examination should not be used, particularly in the absence of any relevant evidence. This had been done by a learned brother Bar member, and it also took place under the supervision of the Court.”
As a result, “this Court conveys its apologies to P.W.1 in particular and the plaintiffs in general on this score as well,” the Court stated.
A case concerning a disagreement regarding the division of private property was being heard by the Court. A woman and her three daughters had appealed their father’s decision to give all of his property to his son born to his second wife in a local court. Because his first wife had “failed” to bear him a male child, the man had married again without getting a divorce.
The father’s attorney had implied, during cross-examination in a lower court, that the girls’ mother had a questionable character and that they were born to a different man while their mother had lied about their paternity.
The son and the second wife were prevented from encumbering the suit property by a lower court.As a result, the two went to the High Court to challenge the order of the lower court.
Justice Chakravarthy worked hard after the case was decided to find the instance of misogyny that took place during the trial, which is typically “masked for public consumption.”
“This kind of insensitivity and errors that assassinate the character are typically masked for public consumption in the judgment,” he stated.
“However, I am forced to extract the information because such insensitive cross examination should not be used, particularly in the absence of any relevant evidence.”
However, the judge went on to say that this kind of misogyny was not the lawyer’s fault on its own; rather, it was a reflection of society’s collective failure.
In addition, the Court stated that cross-examination was not conducted with the intention of humiliating litigants or leaving them with permanent mental scars.
Justice Chakravarthy stated, “On behalf of the society at large, this Court conveys the due apologies to the plaintiffs 2 to 4, the daughters and that they can be rest assured that they are as good as sons for all purposes” in reference to the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005.
The Court decided the appeal by ruling that the respondent’s son would be entitled to a 6/25th share of the suit properties, while the appellant’s wife and daughters would be entitled to 19/25th shares. These properties were considered ancestral.