The Supreme Court on Monday stayed a controversial order that let out three former law students of OP Jindal Global University who were convicted of repeatedly gang-raping and blackmailing a fellow female student for over a year.

The case dates back to 2015 when a student of OP Jindal Global University in Sonepat had alleged that her friend Hardik Sikri had blackmailed her using photos of her in the nude. The woman had alleged that she was forced to have sex with Sikri and his two friends, Vikas Garg and Karan Chhabra.

A Sonepat court had convicted the accused for blackmailing her since 2013. The High Court’s September order, however, had granted bail to the them on the grounds that her statement stemmed from a “promiscuous attitude and a voyeuristic mind.”

Advocate Prashant Mendiratta filed a Special Leave Petition challenging the September 13, 2017, order of a Division Bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court. The petition said the High Court had erred by taking selected passages from the complainant’s evidence including the testimony that she bought sex toys, condoms and viagra. It also stated that the High Court had ignored WhatsApp messages from Sikri to the complainant that was evidence that he had blackmailed her.

The order’s selective reliance on parts of the complainant’s evidence was tantamount to shaming her and had ignored the fact that a woman’s general character is irrelevant to the matter of “consent”, the petition said.

The Division Bench comprising Justice Mahesh Grover and Justice Raj Shekhar Attri had added that the accused were let out to study abroad. “It would be a travesty if these young minds are confined to jail for an inordinate long period which would deprive them of their education.”

The apex court’s order was welcomed by many in the legal fraternity. “The previous order was deeply flawed,” Senior Advocate Indira Jaising said. “The reasoning behind it was neither legal nor did it make any sense.”

The three convicts will have to go back to jail till the Supreme Court decides the Special Leave Petition. “I was disturbed by the victim blaming prevalent in the Punjab and Haryana Court order,” said Indira Jaising.

The complainant is satisfied with the order too. “Our client is certainly feeling safer because of it,” said Mendiratta.

While Sikri and Chhabra got a 20-year sentence, Garg was sent to jail for a term of seven years.