NGO asks SC to expunge `keep` remarks

Mahila Dakshta Samiti, an NGO working for the cause of women, has asked the Supreme Court to expunge its remarks like "keep", "one night stand" and "servant" made in a judgement.

New Delhi: Mahila Dakshta Samiti, an NGO
working for the cause of women, has asked the Supreme Court to
expunge its remarks like "keep", "one night stand" and
"servant" made in a judgement, saying it was highly derogatory
and insulting to females.

The review petition comes against the backdrop of the
strong opposition aired by country`s sole woman Additional
Solicitor General Indira Jaising, who on October 22 told the
bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and TS Thakur that the
remarks ought to be expunged.

While dealing with a matrimonial dispute, the bench had
ruled that the benefits of maintenance available to women
under Section 125 CrPC and Domestic Violence Act 2005 would
not be available if the woman was a mere "keep," a "servant"
used for sexual purposes, or if it was a "one night stand"
between a man and a woman.

"It is submitted with respect that use of expressions
such as `keep` are highly derogatory of women and discriminate
against them on ground of marital status which ought to be
abhorred and deprecated in the light present day
constitutionality," the petition said.

The petition submitted that the interpretation was
erroneous and contrary to the plain wording of relationship in
the nature of marriage as used in Section 2(f) of the Act
2005.

"It is submitted the fact that several men who may be
married, do enter into a second marriage, live and cohabit
with another woman and represent to the women as well as
to the world that he is married to her.

"It would be unjust and unfair to deny the protection of
the law to such women considering that they have yet to
believe they have actually cohabited with the men for a
considerable length of time as husband and wife," the petition
said.

It stated the petitioner "truly believes and is
supported in this belief by a large number of women that words
such as `keep`, and `one night stand` when used to with
reference to women who are in relationship with the men
outside the framework of marriage, are highly derogatory of
their dignity and are in violation of their rights under
Article 15(3) in as much as they discriminate against women on
the ground of sex and marital status."

The world over such persons are termed as cohabitants
or partners in keeping with the dignity of Human beings, the
petition said.

Under English Law `cohabitants` is defined as a man and
a woman who, although not married to each other, are living
together as husband and wife, it argued.

"The Petitioner also prays that the use of the
expression `servant` in the said judgement is derogatory of
the dignity of labour and needs to be expunged. It is worth
mentioning that those who provide domestic service are
referred to either as domestic workers or domestic help in
international forum as well in Legislations such as
Maharashtra Domestic Workers` Welfare Board Act 2008," the
petition said.

PTI

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