New Delhi: Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir Monday lauded the protests that took place in the wake of the Dec 16, 2012, gang-rape here as "fully justified" and "absolutely necessary", but said the agitation was later "hijacked" and became "ugly".
"I could also have been there, but I can't," the CJI said.
"What happened that day (Dec 16) was not something new...but it caught the imagination of the people and led to a tremendous upsurge, and this upsurge as I have said earlier also, was fully justified. What started as a protest, as a mark of showing one's anger, it was all genuine, absolutely necessary...," Chief Justice Kabir said.
"I salute everybody who took part (in the protests). I wish I could also have been there, but I can't," he said on the sidelines of the Sixth National Conference on the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.
He, however, cautioned "that we cannot afford certain types and groups of people from exploiting such situation for their own ends".
"My nephew was also beaten up in the protest (at India Gate)," Chief Justice Kabir said, adding "the protest was later on hijacked".
He said that it started out as a "peaceful protest", but other "things" started coming in and it "became ugly".
The CJI described the attack as "the most shameful thing that could have happened".
Asking people to view the gang-rape as a crime against women in general and not just any individual, he said there have been certain "knee-jerk" reactions to the incident.
Commenting on protests in the capital over the incident, Justice Kabir said that "this anger can be channelised positively".
"On that day what happened is not exactly something new. But it caught the imagination of the people. But I will still caution that what happened on Dec 16 was not against a particular person, but crime against women in general," the CJI said.
He said that in order to address issues like gang-rape, six fast-track courts have been set up in the capital. He said he has written to authorities in other states "to ensure that these courts are set up in other places also".
The CJI said it was important that the apart from the "letter of the law, spirit of the law" was also considered. "Without sensitivity, there is no point in being a judge."