What about victim’s trauma? Plea in SC against molester getting bail on ‘rakhi’ condition

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The Madhya Pradesh High Court, in July, granted bail to an accused in a molestation case on the condition that he would request the alleged victim to tie him ‘Rakhi’. Nine women lawyers moved the Supreme Court against the high court order and said that courts across the country should be restrained from imposing such conditions as these are “against the principle of law”. The Supreme Court has now sought the assistance of the Attorney General on this plea to stay Madhya Pradesh High Court order.

A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar issued notice to the office of Attorney General K K Venugopal on Friday.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for the petitioners including lawyer Aparna Bhat, told the bench that the appeal has been filed in a “extraordinary circumstance”. “The trauma of the victim is trivialised by such conditions,” Parikh told the bench, also comprising Justice B R Gavai. “These kind of conditions are imposed which are against the principle of law. Repeatedly such observations are being made,” he said.

Are you making the submission only for Madhya Pradesh or for the entire country? the bench asked.

Answering this, Parikh said he is making submission with regard to entire country and the petitioners have made prayers to restrain courts, including high courts and trial courts, from making such observations. The bench, which said it is issuing notice to the office of the top law officer of the country, posted the matter for hearing on November 2.

“The high court erred in imposing a condition that defeated the very purpose of granting bail by directing the alleged perpetrator to establish contact with the victim,” the plea said.

It alleged that imposing such a condition results in “further victimization of the survivor” in her own house. “In the context of Rakshabandhan being a festival of guardianship between brothers and sisters, the said bail condition amounts to gross trivialisation of the trauma suffered by the complainant in the present case,” it said, adding that the alleged incident is said to have been committed by the accused by forcibly entering the complainant’s house.

In the order, the Madhya Pradesh High Court stated, “The applicant along with his wife shall visit the house of the complainant with a Rakhi thread / band at 11 am on August 3 with a box of sweets and request the complainant to tie the Rakhi band to him with the promise to protect her to the best of his ability for all times to come. He shall also tender Rs 11,000 to the complainant as a customary ritual, usually offered by the brothers to sisters on such an occasion and shall also seek her blessings. The applicant shall also tender Rs 5,000 to the son of the complainant for purchase of clothes and sweets.”

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