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Friday, March 24, 2023

SC quashes Madhya Pradesh HC ‘Rakhi for Bail to sexual assault accused’ order

The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside Madhya Pradesh High Court’s order granting bail to a man accused in a molestation case on a condition that he would tie ‘Rakhi’ to the victim. A bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar issued a slew of directions, which included training modules for sensitization of judges and emphasized that judges should avoid any kind of stereotyping.

The Attorney General (AG) K.K. Venugopal had also opposed the bail condition.

The plea was filed by advocate Aparna Bhat and eight other women lawyers against the July 30 order by the Madhya Pradesh High Court, where an accused of sexual assault was asked to get a ‘Rakhi’ tied on him by the victim as a condition for bail.

“The bail condition in question amounts to further victimisation of the survivor in her own house. In the context of ‘Raksha Bandhan’ being a festival of guardianship between brothers and sisters, the said bail condition amounts to gross trivialization of the trauma suffered by the complainant in the present case”, said the plea.

The petitioners had argued that the bail condition by the High Court should be set aside. Bhat had contended in the plea that order has been passed by a constitutional court such as a High Court of a state and there is a strong likelihood that such observations and directions may result in normalizing “what is essentially a crime and has been recognised to be so by the law.”

The plea said: “It is highly objectionable for the High Court in the present case to put the complainant in a position where she is forced to accept the sum of Rs 11,000 as part of the customary ritual of Raksha Bandhan. Moreover, the said bail condition also goes a step further by stating that Respondent No. 2 (the accused) tender Rs 5,000 to the son the complainant.”

Recently, a SC bench headed by the CJI had asked a government employee accused of rape, assault and stalking of a minor girl, “Will you marry her?”. The mothers of the accused and survivor had signed an agreement that the girl would be married to her rapist upon turning major, but he later reneged on the promise. The SC granted the accused interim protection by staying his arrest order for four weeks and asked him to file for regular bail; earlier, the Bombay High Court’s (HC) Aurangabad bench had denied  anticipatory bail petition stating it was a serious POCSO offense.

Without a doubt, judicial reforms are the crying need of the hour.

(With IANS inputs)

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