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CJI Remarks to Rape Accused Invoke Criticism

CJI Remarks to Rape Accused Invoke Criticism

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NEW DELHI, Mar 1: A day after the union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressed concern over “increasing trend of criticism of judges,” eyebrows have raised over a remark by the Chief Justice of India giving a leeway to a rape accused of “help against arrest” if he was ready to marry the victim, a minor.

“Are you ready to marry her,” CJI SA Bobde, heading a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court asked the accused, Mohit Subhash Chavan, a technician with the Maharashtra State Electricity Production Company. He allegedly raped a school girl and now faces charges under the POSCO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act, 2012, and other related acts. He has gone to the Supreme Court pleading against his arrest since he was a government employee challenging the Bombay High Court’s order of February 5 which rejected his plea for protection against arrest and cancelled his anticipatory bail.

“Will you marry her?” Bobde asked the accused man. “If you are willing to marry her then we can consider it, otherwise you will go to jail,” observed the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, adding “We are not forcing you to marry.”

In response, the lawyer appearing for the accused said, “Initially, he wanted to marry her. But she refused. Now he cannot as he is already married.” Bobde further said, “If you want to marry, we can help you. If not, you lose your job and go to jail. You seduced the girl, raped her.”

The apex court granted the accused protection from arrest for four weeks and directed him to apply for regular bail from the concerned court.

The accused had sought protection from arrest saying that as he was a government employee, he would be suspended automatically if he was arrested and lose his job.

According to reports, the accused had raped the girl while her parents were out of town. He allegedly gagged the victim’s mouth, and tied her hands and legs.

He is also said to have threatened the victim that he would throw acid on her face if she disclosed the incident to anyone. He is also accused of threatened her with harm to her family members.

“Stop the rapists marry their survivors and let off. Charge Them Appropriately,” screamed several insertions in the social media. Some others said, “If this comes from the CJI, we as a nation are in deep deep deep trouble,”

Many other journalists and activists also criticised the CJI’s remarks and said the accused should be charged in accordance with his alleged crime. “Raping and marrying is no solution of the crime,” they said.

In his plea filed in the top court, the accused has referred to the Maharashtra Civil Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules 1979 and said it pointed out that if a government servant is detained in police custody under criminal charges for a period of 48 hours, then he shall be deemed to have been placed under suspension by an order of appointing authority.

(Manas Dasgupta)

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