This article explores the progress of gender equality in India and how the judicial system has played a role in empowering women through laws. It begins by acknowledging the tendency to marginalise women in socio-legal matters and then highlights the rise of feminism as a movement advocating for social, economic and political gender parity. During the independence era, feminism emerged in India with initiatives aimed at abolishing harmful practices like sati and promoting widow remarriage. The article delves into actions taken during this time such as the Bengal Sati Regulation Act and the Hindu Widow Remarriage Act.
After gaining independence, India's constitution laid a foundation for gender equality through Articles 14, 15 and 16. These articles promote non-discrimination and have special provisions for the betterment of women in society. The article also spotlights landmark court cases that challenged gender disparities, including Mohd. Ahmed Khan v Shah Bano Begum, Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan and Shri Bodhisattwa Gautam v. Miss Subhra Chakraborty. The article further discusses the development of abortion laws in India influenced by precedents like the Roe v. Wade case, which emphasized women's right to reproductive autonomy.
Lastly, the article sheds light on efforts done by Indian judiciary to address gender stereotypes present in legal terminology and decision-making processes. A guidebook presented by the Chief Justice of India promotes the dispensation of justice and the removal of indecent legal language. To sum up, this article highlights the role played by the judiciary in shaping societal norms and values, fostering inclusiveness, fairness and a compassionate community. Further, it shed light to how these endeavors impact constitutionalism and contribute to advancing gender equality.