Supreme Court: Notice issued on plea challenging Section 64 CrPC; adult female member of family not competent to accept summons?

The Supreme Court of India in the case Kush Kalra v. UoI and Anr observed and has issued a notice to the Central Government in a petition challenging Section 64 of the Code of Criminal Procedure on the ground that the said section is discriminating against women by treating the female members of a family incapable of accepting summons on behalf of the person who is summoned.
The bench comprising of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli heard the matter.
The counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that the provision was discriminatory against women and it may be noted that Section 64 reads as, where the person who summoned cannot, by the exercise of due diligence to be found, the summons may be served by leaving one of the duplicates for him which includes some adult male member of his family who are residing with him.
A notice has been issued by the bench to the Central government and is returnable for four weeks.
In the present case, as per the petition filled, while the Civil Procedure Code which is enacted in 1908, required the summons to be served on any adult member of the family of the defendant’s which is regardless of their gender, the CrPC, which was being enacted after 65 years of CPC was dogmatic and the anarchic
Further, it was stated that Code of Criminal Procedure does not consider an adult female member of the family capable and competent to receive summons.
However, the bench observed that as per the petition the exclusion of female family members for receiving summons on behalf of the summoned person violating the women’s right to equality guaranteed to them under Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution of India and the right to know which is being guaranteed to them under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India, and right to dignity which is guaranteed to them under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Adding to it, the plea states that a plea filled before the Madras High Court in the case G. Kavitha v. Union of India, wherein challenging the discrimination made against women under section 64 Cr.P.C., wherein the Ministry of Law and Justice, Union of India was being impleaded as Respondent. Therefore, the Ministry of Law and Justice, Union of India has supported the nonservice of summons on females for protecting their privacy. It has also been justified by the Ministry the non- service of summons on females while keeping in mind Pardanashin female.
It has been stated that the provision also jeopardises the victim’s right to speedy trial guaranteed to him under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. As per the plea filled and apart from significantly delaying of the proceedings, the section 64 of CrPC creates hardships for all other relevant stakeholders as well.
It has also been stated in the plea that the provision fails to account for the following situations:
A. When the person summoned residing only with the female family members or;
B. When the only person is a female, who is available at the time of service of summons.
Accordingly, the bench stated that the possibility of such situations is particularly high in light of the stark gender gap is there in the workforce between the females and males, as only 22% of the Indian women are at work, which entails that the remaining 78% of women are being at home.

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