The Hindu Today News & Editorials – 10 March 2021

1) Target judicial patriarchy, not the judge.

The controversy over the CJI’s recent remarks should lead to greater gender sensitivity in observations and judgments.

GS-1: Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues or Social empowerment.


Context:

1. A survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation (2018) and National Crime Records Bureau report (2019) Shows that India as the most dangerous country for women as many as 32,032 rapes were reported in 2019 or 88 incidents of rape a day.

2. The Challenge and Concern for India is, every hour, 39 instances of crime against women including four instances of rape are committed in India. And rape cases have increased by 88% over a decade. Four lakh cases of crimes against women were reported in 2019 .

 

National Crime Records Bureau report (2019):

1. A total of 4,05,861 cases of crime against women were registered during 2019, showing an increase of 7.3% over 2018 (3,78,236 cases).

2. Majority of cases under crime against women under IPC were registered under ‘Cruelty by

Husband or His Relatives’ (30.9%) followed by ‘Assault on Women with Intent to Outrage her

Modesty’ (21.8%),  ‘Kidnapping & Abduction of Women’ (17.9%) and ‘Rape’ (7.9%).

3. The crimerate registered per lakh women population is 62.4 in 2019 in comparison with 58.8   in 2018.

 

Target judicial patriarchy, not the judge

Gender insensitivity India:

1. The recent observations by the Chief Justice of India (CJI), S.A. Bobde, while granting bail to a government servant who is accused of repeated rape and torture of a 16-year-old child have been widely criticised though the Chief Justice of India has now denied having suggested marriage to the rape accused.

2. The worrisome issue is that legally speaking, rape is not even a compoundable offence and parties are not allowed to enter into compromise.

3. The real problem is that such avoidable utterances reflect the patriarchal mindset of our judges and the larger society. These statements demonstrate our gender insensitivity.

4. The Chief Justice of India said was similar to the Modi government’s affidavit, in 2017, in the Delhi High Court. The RSS too had opposed marital rape being made a crime.

5. The Justice J.S. Verma Committee (2013),  which was constituted after the Delhi gang rape (2012) had said that rape should be viewed not as an infringement of a woman’s chastity or virginity but a violation of her bodily integrity and sexual autonomy.

6. This autonomy cannot be permanently lost by entering into marriage. Rape remains rape irrespective of the relationship.

 

Gender insensitivity India

In the higher judiciary(Verdict)

1. The similar observations by other judges to understand the patriarchal attitude of judges. A few years ago, the top court orally asked a convict who had molested a girl 10 years ago to fall at her feet and that if she forgave him, the Court too would limit his sentence of imprisonment to the period already undergone.

2. In June 22, 2020 order while granting advance bail to the rape accused, Justice Krishna S. Dixit of the Karnataka High Court asked why ‘the victim had gone to her office at night’; why had she ‘not objected to consuming drinks with him’

3. The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court, in a strange ruling, had ordered that the sentence of the ‘rape convict can be cut if he agrees to pay ?1 lakh to the victim’. Of course, the poor victim accepted the offer.

4. The Bombay High Court in another case had ordered that breaking a promise of marriage is neither cheating nor rape. Here, the victim had filed for divorce from her husband to marry the accused.

5. Justice Mridul Bhatkar granted bail to the accused observing that ‘it is an unfortunate case of frustrated love affair’.

6. The Madras High Court had granted bail to a rape accused so that he could mediate with the victim. The Supreme Court had to quickly intervene to get the bail cancelled.

 

The Bhanwari Devi case and other case:

1. The shocking decision in Bhanwari Devi (1995); she was gang-raped in 1992. The acquittal order by the Rajasthan court gave absurd reasons such as a higher caste man cannot rape a lower caste woman for reasons of purity

2. A 2020 judgment from the Guwahati High Court treated refusal of applying sindoor (vermilion) and wearing conch shell bangles (shaka) as sufficient basis to grant divorce to the husband.

3. A few years ago, the Madras High Court gave an absurd order by directing that ‘divorcees too should maintain sexual purity to claim alimony’.

4. Even a progressive judge like Justice M. Katju in D. Velusamy vs D. Patchaiammal (2010) had termed a second Hindu wife as a ‘mistress’ and ‘keep’, and thus not entitled to maintenance.

5. In Narendra vs K. Meena (2016), the top court held that under Hindu traditions, a wife on marriage is supposed to fully integrate herself with her husband’s family and that if she refuses to live with her in-laws, it would amount to cruelty and the husband would be entitled to divorce her under the Hindu Marriage Act. The High Court had ruled in favour of the wife.

6. In Rajesh Sharma vs The State Of Uttar Pradesh (2017), a two judge Bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit in yet another controversial order observed that there should be no automatic arrests on charges of cruelty. In this case, a demand of dowry was made for ?3 lakh and a car, which the wife’s family was not able to meet.

 

And in ‘Hadiya’

1. In the infamous Hadiya (2017) case too, some of the observations of the Kerala High Court about Hadiya’s independent agency and powers of her father over her were equally shocking and patriarchal.

2. The Supreme Court in 2018 upheld the validity of her marriage and overruled the High Court’s strange judgment; the fact is that the top court’s order of investigation by the National Investigation Agency into the matter of marriage of two adults was absolutely erroneous.

 

India’s worse performance:

1. The survey asked respondents which five of the 193 United Nations member states they thought were most dangerous for women and which country was worst in terms of healthcare, economic resources, cultural or traditional practices, sexual violence and harassment, non-sexual violence and human trafficking.

2. Respondents ranked India the most dangerous country for women in terms of human trafficking, including sex slavery and domestic servitude, and for customary practices such as forced marriage, stoning and female infanticide.

3. Government data shows reported cases of crime against women rose by 83 percent between 2007 and 2016, when there were four cases of rape reported every hour.

India’s worse performance

 

Conclusion:

1. In normal circumstances, a wife is expected to be with the family of the husband after the marriage. She becomes integral to and forms part of the family of the husband’. Interestingly, though the wife is an integral part of her husband’s family, yet she is not a coparcener under the Hindu Succession Act.

2. One hopes the controversy now will lead to greater gender sensitivity by our judges, at least in their oral observations and questions, if not the final judgments. It would be better to target patriarchy rather than the Chief Justice of India. Of course the power to ask questions too must reflect gender sensitivity.

3. India moving to the top of woman crime survey showed not enough was being done to tackle the danger women faced, more than five years after the rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi made violence against women a national priority.

 

2) Ploughing a new furrow in the agri-regulatory system.

Change is needed as Indian farmers face constraints, and as world agriculture will now rely on middle-income countries.

GS-3: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System-objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions;


Context:

1. The recently enacted farm laws have brought to light the issue of developing a sound regulatory framework to promote India’s agricultural growth and in keeping pace with the changing times.

2. While the country is divided on the need for the three new farm laws, the fact remains that farmers, mainly smallholders, across India continue to face various constraints in carrying out farming activities.

3. They include constraints in accessing agricultural inputs, markets, finance, human resources, and information, which are critical for increasing farmers’ competitiveness.

 

Role for the government:

1. The existing institutional set up that controls farm production often fails to ease these constraints. A way out of this problem is to develop a suitable regulatory system that would enable farmers to overcome their constraints.

2. Governments can play a critical role in this regard by enacting laws and regulations that influence farmers’ access to agricultural inputs, cost of production, farmers’ participation in agricultural markets and value chains, the competitiveness of farmers, and private investment in the farming sector.

 

 The World Bank titled Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) 2019:

1. Based on eight indicators, the EBA measures the extent to which government regulatory systems in 101 countries worldwide make it easier for their farmers to operate agricultural activities.

2. The indicators are supplying seed, registering fertilizer, securing water, registering machinery, sustaining livestock, protecting plant health, trading food, and accessing finance.

3. These indicators measure the strength of a country’s agricultural regulatory environment pertaining to market integration and entrepreneurship in agriculture. The EBA is akin to the Doing Business project of the World Bank, which ranks the ease of doing business in countries.

 

 The World Bank titled Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA) 2019

India’s poor standing:

1. Among 101 countries covered, India ranked 49 on the EBA aggregate score. France, Croatia, and the Czech Republic are the three top-ranking countries.

2. Among emerging groups of 20 (EG 20) countries, India has the second least favourable regulatory environment for farming activities after South Africa.

3. Turkey is the top-performing country among EG 20 countries, followed by Argentina, Brazil, the Russian Federation, Mexico and China.

4. India lags behind its close competitors in world agriculture, namely China, Brazil, and the Russian Federation .Compared to these three countries,

  1. India has the weakest performance on five out of eight indicators. They are registering fertilizer and machinery, securing water, sustaining livestock, and protecting plant health indicators.

 

The productivity loss, higher cost of food production concern for India:

1. Inadequate access to quality agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, water, and mechanical power can cause productivity loss, higher cost of food production and uncertainty, and lower capacity of farmers to produce surpluses, adopt new plant varieties and accept new opportunities to improve their income.

2. The regulatory system that governs irrigation management is essential for reducing the variability of farm output, prices, and incomes, minimising vulnerability to natural shocks, and incentivising the production of riskier and high returns crops.

 

The productivity loss, higher cost of food production concern for India

Seed supply:

1. The comparative score of India on supplying seed, trading food, and accessing finance indicators is high. Supplying seed indicator evaluates laws and regulations that ensure timely release of seed to farmers.

2. A robust seed supply system is required for improving yield and adopting new crop varieties. The trading food indicator assesses laws and regulations that facilitate exporting of farm products by farmers.

3. The regulatory framework on the use of warehouse receipts is assessed using accessing finance indicator. A robust warehouse receipts system enables the farmers to obtain the credit needed to invest in agriculture.

4. Warehouse receipt operators accept deposits of crops and provide warehouse receipts to farmers as evidence of deposited crops. By using warehouse receipts as collateral, farmers can receive credit.

 

The EBA project results:

1. The compared to its close competitors, the strength of India’s agricultural regulatory environment is weak on the whole and with respect to key performance indicators.

2. The agricultural sector in developing countries is transforming. This process is characterized by improvements in productivity, a shift away from staple crops and a greater degree of commercialization.

The EBA project results

 

Conclusion:

1. Global agricultural production has grown tremendously in recent decades, tripling between 1970 and 2016. While it currently constitutes only about 3.9% of global GDP, agriculture is the economic backbone of many developing countries. Agriculture contributes to about 25% of GDP in low-income countries as compared to only 1% of GDP in the European Union.

2. India Gaining access to the global agricultural value chain requires a sound regulatory framework on SPS. For instance, thanks to active involvement by the SPS authority, namely National Agrarian Health Service (SENASA-Peru), Peru had become one of the world’s leading exporters of asparagus.

3. To make the best use of this great opportunity, India needs to put in place an agricultural regulatory system that would make it easier for its farmers to conduct agricultural activities, thereby improving their productivity, competitiveness, and income.

4. The future of world agriculture and food production is expected to increasingly depend on middle-income countries such as China, India, Brazil, and Indonesia, just like the high-income countries dictating the fortunes of global agriculture in the past five decades.