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Petition to Chief Justice of India – Remove Justice Bhaktavatsala of Karnataka High Court

September 5, 2012

On August 9, during the hearing of a matrimonial dispute, Karnataka High Court Judge K Bhaktavatsala told a young woman lawyer that she was unfit to argue the matter since she was unmarried. “Family matters should be argued only by married people, not spinsters. You should only watch. Bachelors and spinsters watching family court proceedings will start thinking if there is any need to marry at all. Marriage is not like a public transport system. You better get married and you will get very good experience to argue such cases,” he advised her.

Last week, hearing a case between a separated couple, in which the woman accused her husband of regularly beating her, the judge told the woman, “Women suffer in all marriages. You are married with two children, and know what it means to suffer as a woman. Yesterday, there was a techie couple who reconciled for the sake of their child. Your husband is doing good business, he will take care of you. Why are you still talking about his beatings?”

Justice Bhaktavatsala has shown grave disrespect towards the Indian Constitution, which he is sworn to protect, and which guarantees equal rights to all citizens, men and women. As such, he has revealed himself to be utterly unfit for his high office of responsibility.

Sign the petition asking the Chief Justice of India, Hon’ble Mr. Justice S.H. Kapadia, to remove Justice K Bhaktavatsala from his post for these appalling statements.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. September 5, 2012 12:28 PM

    I find nothing wrong on honorable judge’s statements. If we have to remove judges for these small comments, then there would not be any single judge left in India. Go thru terrorism related cases, the accused often get hammered by judges in an unfair and unhealthy manner.

    • Aditya Nigam permalink*
      September 5, 2012 3:56 PM

      Mr Ghafoor,
      You are entitled to your personal opinions and so is Mr Bhaktavatsala. Inside your/his house you/he can hold whatever opinion, but for the ‘honourable judge’ to be addressed as such requires, at the minimum that he base his public statements and observations on the Law that he is supposed to uphold. His opinion, if it goes against the spirit of the Constitution, not only has to be condemned, it has to be punished. He cannot remain in a position of the dispenser of justice, even if wants to continue beating his wife:)(for which, I am sure there are other remedies).

      • Manish permalink
        September 7, 2012 1:44 PM

        Is he beating his wife ? Has he any daughter or sister ? Are they getting beaten up ?
        As a judge how one can say this ?

    • September 5, 2012 5:08 PM

      He is making these unconstitutional statements in an official capacity. It’s equivalent to the police commissioner publicly condoning a criminal. He has no business being in a High Court ever again.

    • Anita Pradhan permalink
      September 6, 2012 10:39 PM

      if someone had spoken the same words for any lady belongs to your familiy,what would had your reaction,just tell me that??
      If a person sitting in such a high post,don’t have the sense what to say then how could you expect justice from him??

    • Anwesha permalink
      September 9, 2012 2:27 AM

      Please do not belittle the situation- those comments were not ‘small’- at least the impact was pretty big. He was making a prejudiced commentary on the plight of women and literally imposing it on the woman (to say the least). It is our grave misfortune as a people, that along with a corrupt government, impotent law enforcers we also have a chauvinist judiciary.

    • Tara Narula permalink
      October 1, 2012 11:36 AM

      Dear Mr. Ghafoor,

      These ‘small comments’ were in the course of a hearing and the judgement based on this opinion would be a grave miscarriage of justice. It is also against any law that could be applicable – ranging from family, criminal, constitutional and administrative law and well beyond a judge’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, you speak of things judges may say to the accused in terrorism hearings – may I point out that in this case, the woman is NOT the ACCUSED, she is the VICTIM or SURVIVOR of a CRIME. You would scarcely show anything but sympathy to those affected by a terror attack, your reasoning is fundamentally flawed in this respect.

    • Pankaj Rai permalink
      February 13, 2013 10:32 AM

      Mr Ghafoor – a judge cannot let his personal views override the law of the land else he does incalculable harm to litigants seeking justice.

  2. passerby permalink
    September 5, 2012 12:45 PM

    I wonder whether a petition like this can do this. What is the procedure for removal of a judge.

  3. September 5, 2012 12:59 PM

    This campaign is important and it is one that needs to be supported not only by women. The ‘learned’ judge is a disgrace to ‘man’kind. Judges such as this need to be exposed before they go about getting ‘elevated’ to the Supreme Court or posted as Chief Justice in some other hapless High Court.

  4. rohan permalink
    September 5, 2012 1:34 PM

    OTHER GEMS by the same man:
    The court asked the woman if her parents were present, at which her father walked up to the bench. The judge remarked, “Ask your father if he has never beaten your mother!” When the woman said her husband would beat her in the open, in front of everyone, Justice Bhaktavatsala remarked that it was she who was bringing it out in the open. The court was told that the husband would beat her in the middle of the night and had thrown her out of the houseWhen the woman’s advocate produced photographs showing her swollen face, the court said, “You have to adjust. Are you just behind money? There is nothing in your case to argue on merits.Have you read about actor Darshan. He spent 30 days in jail after beating his wife. But they are living together now. What is on your mind and what is on your agenda?”

    Last year in a a habeas corpus petition by a Bangalore resident seeking reunion with his newly married wife, who he claimed was being illegally detained by her parents. Presently the law requires the girl to be 18yrs. In a case of marriage by choice he sent the boy to jail.

    This is clearly insane. You have to read his judgements and hear his pronouncements to believe him !!!! the demand should be to send him to an assylum to preserve the dignity of judges themselves .

    • Tara Narula permalink
      October 8, 2012 10:28 AM

      Hi, I am trying to find his original judgements – could you possibly post a link through whatever database?

  5. Dinesh permalink
    September 5, 2012 2:44 PM

    How on earth can a judge say such things? Shocking is too mild a word.

  6. September 5, 2012 3:58 PM

    While I agree with the spirit of the petition, i think the effort needs to be strategized more carefully. The procedure of ‘removing’ high court and supreme court judges is a tedious business and has to follow the constitutional mandate as laid down in Art 217 of the Constitution (for HC judges). Only the President can remove a HC or SC judge and the procedural formality is tough and rarely removal happens due to obvious and not so obvious reasons. The procedure is inherently political as well. So I do not see ‘removal’ as the ‘easy’ route. However, a very practical way to ameliorate this problem is to plead with the CJ of Karnataka High Court (this petition can be a good starting point for that) to change the roster and put someone else on family law matters. This is a quick solution for this particular case.

  7. ravi permalink
    September 5, 2012 11:14 PM

    To begin with the CJ of the High Court can be requested not to assign any case to him or not to assign him any judicial duties. If some of his judgments are judicial overreach their legality can be challenged. But removal of a judge is not at all easy and it takes more time and effort. Suspending a judge is also not an easy issue. So the best option is to ensure that the CJ does not assign him any judicial work. Even if that first step is taken and CJ agrees to that it is a significant victory.

  8. Anuradha Singh permalink
    September 6, 2012 3:00 PM

    Mr. Abdul Ghafoor,
    “I find nothing wrong on honorable judge’s statements. If we have to remove judges for these small comments, then there would not be any single judge left in India.” As Aditya said, you are entitled to your views but mind you gentleman (if at all you are) it is not a small comment. It not only violates the equal rights clause of the constitution but also sends a very degrading message about women. The kind of utterances that the “honorable judge” has made amounts to saying that women are meant to be beaten in marriage, as if its so natural, so given , so matter of fact !

  9. Nivedita Menon permalink*
    September 8, 2012 1:54 PM

    A small but telling victory
    Family court matters taken away from Justice Bhakthavatsala


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