“My Comment Was Misreported, SC Highly Respects Women”: CJI on Being Criticized About His Comments
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. We are not forcing you. Later you may say court forced you, CJI S.A Bobde was heard saying to a rape accused petitioner’s lawyer.
Today the Chief Justice of India denied the accusations put on him during the hearing of the minor’s rape case where the minor was continuously raped by a government official.
The CJI’s response today came after majority allegations about the accountability of the comment.
CJI, denying the accusations said “We did not ask him (rape accused) to marry. We asked 'are you going to marry?' We did not say 'marry'."
He further stated that his comments were misreported and was distortedly presented. Dictating the Supreme Court has always accorded to respect women and stands by them, Bobde said that his comment was put under translucent grounds.
“We did not have any marital rape cases before us. I asked my brothers (judges sitting on the bench). They, too, do not remember. This institution, particularly this bench, we have the highest respect for womanhood," pronounced Bobde.
The held before the week hearing of the case where the CJI asked the accused to marry the minor gained enough backlash from the higher bodies of the country, politicians, actors, lawyers and others. People demanded CJI to back down from his position and also started a petition to acknowledge such mishap from the Supreme Court. Around 50,000 people signed the petition demanding CJI to quit.
The case dates back to the year 2014-15 when the minor was a student of class ninth. The complainant approached the High court accusing her distant relative Mohit Subash Chavan raped her multiple times until she reached class 12th.
According to the police complaint, in 2018 the minor attempted suicide after which her mother accompanied and filed a complaint against the accused.
Later their parents concluded to marry both of them once the girl turns 18. The parents decided to agree for the marriage on the grounds of them being involved in a consensual sexual relationship.
Due to certain reasons (not known), the girl’s mother did not agree to the marriage and instead filed a complaint against Chavan on December 17, 2019.
The FIR against him was filed under sections 376 (punishment for rape), 417 (punishment for cheating), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, and sections 4 (punishment for penetrative sexual assault) and 12 (punishment for sexual harassment) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012.
On December 23rd Mohit Chavan filed for anticipatory bail before the sessions court and he was granted bail on 6th January 2020.
After the girl challenged the anticipatory bail in High court in 2020, the Bombay High court on February 5th cancelled it. Chavan then challenged the High court’s decision of rejecting his anticipatory bail in Supreme court.
On March 1st the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde in response to the case asked the accused if he will would marry the rape victim.
In his statement asking justice for the minor who was raped by a Mohit Subash Chavan, a technician in the Maharashtra State Electric Production Company Ltd.
Chief Justice SA Bobde asked Chavan’s lawyer “Will you marry her?”. He further stated “You should have thought before seducing and raping the young girl. You know you are a government servant… We are not forcing you to marry. Let us know if you will, otherwise you will say we are forcing you to marry her.”
CJI’s comment was criticized by Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora, however she accepted that the area of law preceding the case is difficult. “The offence is rape and will still not go away. That’s an offence in rem, it is against the State and the public. Marrying the victim of rape does not take away from the offence. The legislature really needs to revisit this area of consenting intercourse with a minor, who is at the borderline…The law should look at consensual acts between young people and particularly where the girl may not be 18 but capable enough to make a decision,” she said.
The three-judge bench comprising CJI, Justice A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian granted four-week protection from arrest to the accused granting him time to file for regular bail.
While the country still awaits for the final verdict, CJI’s comments did diminish the hopeful future for Indian women.
While we celebrate International Women’s day today, we pray for an improvised law respecting women of the country.
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