Justice K Bhakthavatsala Asks Women To ‘Adjust’: The Tryst Between The Law And A Distraught Mind

Posted on September 10, 2012 in Society

By Sanjunkta Krishnagopal:

That the Indian society has come a long way in abolishing sexism and giving equal rights to both males and females, happens to be a popular claim. The law and order, is another assisting/enforcing hand in this regard. A large leap has been taken by the women in our country in an endeavour to stride shoulder to shoulder with men. I could go on and on, but a reality check is well in line.

Justice K Bhakthavatsala has a new perspective to offer that goes against more than one of the constitutional laws, at least when it comes to women and what they are deemed worthy of. Apparently, wife beating and physical abuse aren’t strong enough grounds for women to assert their ‘independence’ and demand a divorce. Or rather, let’s just say that he is an aspiring cupid living out his life’s ambitions under the façade of a high court judge.

On the 27th of August 2012, a 37 year old husband approached Justice Bhakthavatsala of the Karnataka high court when his 28-year-old wife fled for security with their two kids. The court demanded that both parties be present on the 31st for the hearing, which however turned out to be more of a marriage counsellor’s efforts towards reconciliation than a court case. Justice Bhakthavatsala and Justice B S Indrakala presided over the hearing and articulated some outrageous sentiments which can only be interpreted as the appalling social ideology that the lower rungs of the society still subscribe to. When told that the man used to beat his wife, and even threw her out of the house, he insisted that women have been through worse(and mind you, this applies only to women), suffered more harrowing pains and lived to tell the tale. He asked her to take it with a pinch of salt and continue living with the excuse of a husband who does not respect her as a person, let alone a woman.

On being shown photos of her swollen face, the judge questioned the family and said that the girl’s father must also definitely have been beaten her mother. This was answered in the affirmative. By this logic, the society must be fine with remaining stagnant and following age old practices or rather malpractices without revealing the slightest hint of discontent. Then again, left to him, the practice of Sati would probably be as natural a thing to do as crying would be for a baby. “You have to adjust. Are you just behind money? There is nothing in your case to argue on merits” -he even had the audacity to say that.

His advice to the husband was to take the family out to lunch, pacify the aggravated wife and then go back home and turn a blind eye to the whole situation. Convenience, evidently, seems to be his motto in life. Justice Indrakala came to the rescue of their young son, who was also present at the court, and said that a little child shouldn’t have to be a witness to such absurdity. Judging by the way things were proceeding, it seems what they really meant was that it was okay if the son witnessed abuse in the house, but the mere mention of it in public is a strict no-no.

Incidents like these continue to hound the social structure and justifiable so. If the regulators of law and order themselves have such a poor opinion of women, then we cannot expect better from the general public, can we? In a developing country like India, where the ideological divide supersedes the economic one, a little common sense wouldn’t do anyone much harm, especially not a high court judge.