On the 8th of November 2013, CLPR hosted Chitra Balakrishnan who presented her research paper titled “Understanding gender and judging through residence orders in Karnataka Trial Courts – A discourse analysis”.
Her research seeks to answer three main questions: Are judges in the lower courts in India making reasoned feminists judgments? Can the Hunter framework apply to trial court orders? What are the additional criteria one needs to look at to call a judgment feminist?. Her findings are based on the analysis of 23 cases, out of which in 15 residence orders were granted to women. Unfortunately, she found that often the system failed these women, in several cases requiring them to provide evidence to which they had no access. Mediation also, in some instances, failed these women. Chitra suggested that a closer study of the outcome of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in cases of domestic violence be done.
Chitra spoke about Rosemary Hunter’s work in the area of feminist judges. She is of the opinion that the Hunter framework would add considerable value to trial court judging in India and will enable more gender-responsive judging.
The floor then opened up to a discussion on the benefits and shortcomings of mediation, the motives and reasons behind why one seeks mediation in cases of domestic violence and the implementation of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005. A point to be noticed is that there was consensus on the importance of feminist adjudication over that of a feminist judge being a woman judge.