‘I am not somebody’s wife, I am person in my own right’

New Delhi: ‘‘I am a person in my own right”, retorted senior advocate Indira Jaising while taking strong exception to Attorney General K K Venugopal’s comment in the Supreme Court on Thursday that she be referred to as the wife of senior counsel Anand Grover.

The incident occurred before a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Navin Sinha when Grover told the court that he was appearing for Jaising, who has filed an application seeking to intervene in the contempt petition filed by the Attorney General against activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

Justice Mishra asked Grover as to whom he was representing in the matter. When Grover said, “Ms Jaising”, Justice Mishra asked, “Not Indira Jaising?” Grover then clarified that he was appearing for her. At this juncture, Venugopal who was present in the court, said: “He (Grover) should say (he is appearing) for his wife.”

To this, Jaising took umbrage and said, “Mr Attorney General you should withdraw his remark. I am a person in my own right”. Minutes later, however, she said: “I am sorry that I lost my temper, Mr Attorney. We identify as individual lawyers. We are not to be identified as somebody’s spouse or somebody’s wife or husband.

We are maintaining our individuality. Hence, we chose not to change our names.” Jaising told the bench that she has filed an application to intervene in the matter as the court was dealing with the issue of whether lawyers and litigants can criticise the court proceedings in a sub judice matter to influence public opinion.

“I also write frequently. I am concerned and I must know the limit of law,” she said, adding, “It is my own choice as to who should represent me. Kindly allow Mr Grover to appear for me”. To this, the bench said, “Do not worry, we will hear everybody when we will hear the issue”.

Jaising later shared the incident on twitter; soon the post went viral with many criticizing the AG as well as the apex court for exhibiting such sexist behaviour, even in this day and age. Many also praised Jaising for her grit in speaking out inside a packed courtroom to defend her identity as an individual. The comments come a day before International Women’s Day.

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