The Supreme Court today quashed the Madhya Pradesh High Court’s order that had granted bail to a man accused in a molestation case on an anachronistic condition that he would tie ‘rakhi‘ to the victim (practically, considering her his sister). In view of the awkward high court ruling, the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar issued a slew of directions like training modules for sensitisation of judges and emphasized that judges should avoid any kind of stereotyping.
This is not the first time that the highest court of the country had to think of measures to educate judges of high or lower courts. Besides other instances, the Supreme Court Collegium in January this year had withdrawn its recommendation to appoint Justice Pushpa V Ganediwala, the additional judge of the Bombay High Court who had issued a strange verdict about groping, as a permanent judge of the court.
Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal had opposed the bail condition advised by the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
Advocate Aparna Bhat and eight other women lawyers had filed this plea against the 30 July order by the Madhya Pradesh High Court that had asked a victim to tie a rakhi on the accused, which, the high court had said, would make the offender fit for bail!
“The bail condition in question amounts to further victimisation of the survivor in her own house. In the context of ‘Raksha Bandhan’ being a festival of guardianship between brothers and sisters, the said bail condition amounts to gross trivialization of the trauma suffered by the complainant in the present case”, said the plea.
The petitioners had argued that the bail condition by the high court should be set aside.
Bhat had contended in the plea that order has been passed by a constitutional court such as a High Court of a state and there is a strong likelihood that such observations and directions may result in normalizing “what is essentially a crime and has been recognised to be so by the law.”
The plea said: “It is highly objectionable for the High Court in the present case to put the complainant in a position where she is forced to accept the sum of Rs 11,000 as part of the customary ritual of Raksha Bandhan. Moreover, the said bail condition also goes a step further by stating that Respondent No. 2 (the accused) tender Rs 5,000 to the son the complainant.”