Chief Justice Gita Mittal leads Jammu & Kashmir Court on Domestic Violence during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Under the leadership of IAWJ member and Chief Justice Gita Mittal, on April 16, 2020, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court called for a report on the steps taken to act against domestic violence or any other kind of violence being faced by women during the COVID-19 lockdown.

This sou moto order was directed to the Department of Social Welfare and the Legal Services Authority. In the order, the Court drew upon actions taken internationally at different jurisdictional levels and suggested measures that aimed at ensuring that women facing violence could get help and relief through various safe methods, safe spaces, call-in services, and public awareness campaigns as well as through law enforcement and the courts. All Courts in J & K and the Union Territories are to treat domestic violence cases on an urgent basis during the COVID-19 lockdown. The order required reports to be submitted to the Courts by the end of April.

As noted in the Indian Bar and Bench legal journal, the order stated: “Unfortunately, all crises disproportionately impact women. Thus internationally, it has been observed that while the pandemic is having a tremendous negative impact on societies and economies, the adverse social and economic consequences of the pandemic for women and girls are devastating.”

Indeed, the extent of the impact of the pandemic and violence against women is being evaluated by international organizations and individual countries and NGOs but the challenges of obtaining accurate data and information remain very difficult. This court order is one example of the important role that judges and courts are playing in addressing the issue of domestic violence during these days of the global pandemic.

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This blog post was prepared by Joan D. Winship, retired IAWJ Executive Director. The views presented in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the IAWJ.