The Supreme Court on Friday sought Attorney General KK Venugopal’s view on courts imposing bail conditions for the accused in sexual assault cases, which “trivialise the offences”, Bar and Bench reported.
The top court approached Venugopal after nine women lawyers filed a petition challenging the Madhya Pradesh High Court’s order from July, in which it asked a man accused of sexual harassment, to get a “rakhi” tied by the complainant and “promise to protect her for all times to come” in order to get bail.
The petitioners’ lawyer Sanjay Parikh said that the matter did not just concern the Madhya Pradesh High Court order but all remarks made by judges that “objectify” complainants. The case was heard by a bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and BR Gavai.
The judges said that they were inclined to issue a notice to Venugopal, since the petitioners were asking for a general direction to all high courts.
The petitioners argued that the since the judgement in the Madhya Pradesh case came from a High Court, “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”.
They added that Rakshabandhan celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters and that the bail condition set by the court amounted “to a gross trivialisation of the trauma suffered by the complainant in the present case”.
“The Hon’ble High Court ought to have been cognizant and sensitive to the fact that in a case involving a sexual offence having been committed against a woman, it is immeasurably difficult for the survivor to lodge an FIR [first information report] and pursue a criminal case against the accused at the threshold. The present case is of particular concern since it has taken years to undo the damaging approach followed by Courts whereby cases involving sexual offences committed against women are attempted to be compromised by way of marriage or mediation between the accused and the survivor.”— The petition
The nine lawyers also told the top court that the complainant had to be kept away from the accused, but the High Court had asked the man to visit her house to get “rakhi” tied, according to The Hindu. The man had allegedly sexually assaulted the woman at her home.
The bench asked the lawyers to serve a copy of the plea and the application to Venugopal. The case will be heard on November 2.