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Supreme Court Sets Aside MP High Court Order asking Rape Accused to get Rakhi Tied by Victim

Supreme Court Sets Aside MP High Court Order asking Rape Accused to get Rakhi Tied by Victim

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NEW DELHI, Mar 18: The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside a judgment of the Madhya Pradesh High Court wherein it had asked a man, who was accused of sexual assault, to tie a “rakhi” on the victim as a prerequisite condition of bail.

A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar issued a slew of directions meant to sensitise the judiciary in cases concerning  offences committed against women. While setting aside the order, the apex court issued directions to be followed by lower courts while dealing with bail petitions in matters relating to crimes against women.

The apex court order was issued on a petition filed by nine women lawyers challenging the High Court bail order of July, 2020.

The nine lawyers, led by Supreme Court advocate Aparna Bhat and represented by senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, in their plea before the Supreme Court had contended that “such judgments from High Courts would end up trivializing such heinous offence and that there is a strong likelihood that such observations and directions may result in normalizing what is essentially a crime and has been recognized to be so by the law.”

Parikh had argued that there were many such instances of court orders which objectify women already traumatised by the crimes committed against them.

The law prescribes the victim to be kept far away from the accused. Instead, the High Court had ordered the accused to visit the home of the woman — the very place where the crime was alleged to have occurred.

The petition said the High Court had also ordered the accused to gift the woman ₹11,000 “as a customary ritual usually offered by brothers to sisters on such occasion and shall also seek her blessings”.

The High Court had also ordered the accused to offer ₹5,000 to the woman’s son for the “purchase of clothes and sweets”.

Mr. Parikh had argued that such orders only succeeded in further victimising women and retard the years of work done to sensitise the courts about how damaging it would be to attempt a compromise “by way of marriage or mediation between the accused and the survivor”.

The top court had also issued a notice to Attorney General K K Venugopal on October 16, 2020, to elicit his views and suggestions on the issue. The AG had then filed written submissions on the steps that could be considered to correct the non-empathetic approach of judges in cases of sexual violence. Venugopal had suggested that judges, who are “old school” and “patriarchal” in their outlook, need to be sensitised so that they do not pass orders objectifying women in cases of sexual violence.

(Manas Dasgupta)

 

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