Supreme Court: Caste or Religion of Litigant Should Never Be Mentioned in Judgment

Supreme Court Law Insider

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Published on: October 11, 2023 at 21:53 IST

The Supreme Court has criticized the practice by certain Trial Courts and High Courts, wherein they mention the caste or religion of a party in the title of their judgments.

This issue came to light during the adjudication of a criminal appeal arising from a child sex abuse case in Rajasthan.

The Supreme Court was taken aback to find that the caste of the respondent had been included in the cause-title of the judgments of the Trial Court and the High Court. The same flaw was observed in the Special Leave Petition, indicating that this information was carried forward from the original judgments.

The Supreme Court, Bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Pankaj Mithal, strongly emphasized that an accused has no caste or religion when their case is being dealt with by the court.

They failed to comprehend why the caste or religion of the accused was mentioned in the cause title of the judgments. As a result, the bench ordered that the caste or religion of a litigant should never be included in the cause-title of the judgment.

This is not the first instance of the bench addressing this issue. Previously, they had issued an interim order on March 14, 2023, deprecating the practice of citing the caste name of parties in judgments.

The observations and directives regarding this matter were made in the context of a judgment on an appeal filed by the State of Rajasthan High Court.

This appeal challenged an order passed by the Rajasthan High Court, which had reduced the sentence of a convict for the rape of a girl child from life imprisonment to twelve years.

The Supreme Court, while not restoring the life sentence awarded by the trial court, directed that the convict must serve a sentence of 14 years without the possibility of remission. One of the mitigating factors considered was the young age of the accused, who was 22 years old.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court directed the Secretary of the Rajasthan State Legal Services Authority to ensure the immediate payment of compensation under the relevant victim compensation scheme to the victim, if it had not already been paid.

The Court also issued general directives concerning the support for child victims of sexual offenses. It emphasized the importance of providing counseling to child victims by trained child counselors or child psychologists, as this helps them recover from trauma and lead better lives in the future.

The court underscored that monetary compensation alone is insufficient and called for comprehensive rehabilitation of girl victims.

It suggested that this should be part of the “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” campaign of the Central Government, emphasizing the government’s responsibility as a welfare state.

The Court ordered that copies of this judgment should be sent to the Secretaries of the relevant state departments.

Case Title: State of Rajasthan v. Gautam s/o Mohanlal

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