The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 22 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Top judge’s unfulfilled wish

Kabir at the conference
in New Delhi.(PTI)

New Delhi, Jan. 21 (PTI): Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir today wished he had participated in the mass protests against the December 16 gang rape in Delhi as they were “fully justified” and “absolutely necessary”.

“I salute everybody who took part (in the protests). I wish I could also have been there, but I can’t,” he said on the sidelines of the sixth national conference on the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.

“What happened that day (December 16) was not something new... but it caught the imagination of the people and led to a tremendous upsurge and this upsurge as I have said earlier also, was fully justified. What started as a protest, as a mark of showing one’s anger, it was all genuine, absolutely necessary...” he said.

Kabir, however, cautioned “that we cannot afford certain types and groups of people from exploiting such situation for their own ends”.

“My nephew was also beaten up in the protest (at India Gate),” Kabir said, adding “the protest was later on hijacked”.

Addressing a gathering of sitting Delhi High Court judge Gita Mittal, several legal luminaries and academicians among others, Kabir said that what happened on December 16 was not just a crime against an individual, but against women and society in general.

Referring to the “shameful” incident when a 23-year-old girl was brutally gangraped in a moving bus and later thrown out of it along with a male friend, he said it had resulted in a tremendous re-thinking of “what is going on” in society.

He added there was a need to change the mindset of judicial officers who take up such cases.

“Many of us (judges) are quite insensitive. Many of us look to the strict letters of the law,” he said, adding that he has reminded people, especially judicial officers, to be sensitive to problems related to women and children.

“Don’t just think of letter of the law, but for God’s sake, also think of the spirit of law. I say take the spirit and the letter of the law, combine them together and you will have something worth looking forward to.”

Addressing the topic of more fast-track courts, Kabir said the government would fund such courts. He said earlier, lack of funds had resulted in several states not continuing with fast-track courts. Now, various states have come forward agreeing to fund these courts and continue them.

He also lamented that had the apex court’s directions to remove curtains and black films from vehicles been implemented, then “no one would have dared to do such a thing in a moving bus”.

He said that magistrates, who are the lowest rung of the judiciary, are being taught “case management and court management” to deal with cases and eliminate delays.