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SC Stays Allahabad High Court’s Order to Check a Rape Victim’s Horoscope

SC Stays Allahabad High Court’s Order to Check a Rape Victim’s Horoscope


Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, June 3: The Supreme Court on Saturday stayed an order of the Allahabad High Court, Lucknow bench, which asked the Lucknow University’s Astrology department to look into the horoscope of a woman to verify the claim by a man whom she had accused of raping her on the promise of marriage.

The man has claimed that he backed out after learning that there were problems in her horoscope. A bench of Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and Pankaj Mithal, which took cognisance of the May 23 order of a single bench of HC, stayed the order and asked HC to decide it on its own merits.

What was particularly unique of the case was that the SC stayed the High Court at the personal intervention by the Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud even though he is abroad.

What makes the CJI’s move even more unusual is that the Supreme Court is on a summer break and no hearings are held on Saturday and Sunday. Top sources in the Supreme Court said the CJI found out about the Allahabad High Court May 23 order on Saturday morning and asked the registry to set up a bench to take note of the issue. Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and Pankaj Mithal held a special sitting at 3 pm and stayed the high court order.

Some sections of Indian society believe that a person born under the influence of the planet Mars (mangal) has “mangal dosha” (affliction). The superstition goes that marriage between a manglik and non-manglik is inauspicious.

An Allahabad University professor jailed for raping a woman on the pretext of marriage had filed a bail petition before the Allahabad High Court, stating that he could not marry the woman because she is manglik. On May 23, the high court directed the head of Lucknow University’s astrology department to study the woman’s horoscope to check whether his claim was true. The court asked for the woman’s horoscope to be submitted in a sealed envelope and directed that the report be submitted within a week.

The Supreme Court bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared in the matter, “Mr Mehta, you have seen this?” “I have seen this. It is disturbing. I would request your lordships to kindly stay this order,” the Solicitor General responded.

“At this stage, we say nothing on the merits of the case, except that in the interest of justice, the operation and effect of this order so far as it gives directions to the Head of the Department (Astrology Department), Lucknow University must be stayed…In the meanwhile, there shall be stay of the operation and effect of the order dated 23rd May, 2023 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad High Court (Lucknow Bench),” the bench said in its order.

The top court said while it respects the sentiments of the parties on astrology and astronomy, what happened was “totally out of context” and involved issues of privacy, etc.

The HC order came while hearing the man’s bail plea.

Appearing for the Centre, Mehta said the High Court order was “disturbing” and urged the court to stay it. He told the bench: “Astrology is a science. Whether a person should decide based on manglik or not in marriage, nobody is questioning. The only question is while entertaining an application by a judicial forum, can this be a consideration?”

The counsel appearing for the complainant woman informed the bench that the HC order “happened by consent of both parties, and the court directed for expert evidence under Section 45 of Evidence Act.” He also pointed out that universities are now granting degree on the subject of Astrology, and it is a science.

“But this was totally out of context,” Justice Dhulia said, referring to the HC order. “What has this got to do with the subject matter? It involves so many other features; the right to privacy has been disturbed. We don’t want to spell out — there are so many other aspects.” The judge also said, “We are not against anything. We are not challenging anything. We are only on the subject matter in this context. That’s all.”

The counsel for the victim pointed out that it was argued that the marriage cannot be solemnised since the woman is manglik, which, some believe is unfavourable for marriages. “That’s why the court ordered. It is not out of context. It was the issue before the court,” the counsel said.

Justice Dhulia, however, said, “We do not want to join issues with you on this fact as to what is the relevance of these aspects, what astronomy has to do, what astrology has to do, nothing. We have nothing on that. We respect your feelings as far as that aspect is concerned. We are only concerned with this subject matter linking to that issue.”

Mehta said while adjudicating the issue, the competent court cannot examine such a thing. The complainant’s counsel said the petitioner had taken the plea that the marriage cannot be solemnised. “Half-part of the ceremony was done. After that, they [man and his family] backed out on the question of manglik. This was argued,” he submitted.

But Justice Mithal said, “We have stayed the order and permitted the court to decide bail application on its merits. We don’t understand why this astrology report is called for.”



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