The Supreme Court today sought Attorney General's assistance on a plea for stay on the Madhya Pradesh High Court order which granted bail to an accused in a molestation case on the condition that he would request the woman to tie him 'Rakhi'.
A bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar issued notice to the office of Attorney General KK Venugopal on an appeal filed by nine women lawyers who have said that courts across the country should be restrained from imposing such conditions as these are against the principle of law.
The high court, in its July 30 order, had granted bail to the accused and imposed a condition that he along with his wife shall visit the house of the complainant and request her to tie 'Rakhi' to him with the promise to protect her to the best of his ability for all times to come.
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 woman is trivialised by such conditions, Mr Parikh told the bench, also comprising Justice BR 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. To this, Mr 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. In their appeal, the petitioners have sought stay of the bail condition imposed on the accused by the high court. The plea said that substantial questions of law, including whether in a case seeking bail it is appropriate for a court to impose extraneous conditions which allows contact between the accused and the complainant, is involved in the matter.
Whether the bail condition which is impugned herein stands to further victimise the complainant and trivialize the trauma that she has suffered, the plea said, adding, Whether the above mentioned bail condition is in line with the principles that govern trials within the criminal justice system?
It said another question of law which arises for consideration of the top court in the matter is whether the High Court ought to have employed circumspection and sensitivity while dealing with a case involving a sexual offence having been committed against a woman.
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 woman, the plea said.
It alleged that imposing such a condition results in further victimisation 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 trivialization 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.
While it is routine for courts to award certain compensation to survivors of sexual offences to be paid by the accused, 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 Rakhshabandhan.
"Moreover, the said bail condition also goes a step further by stating that respondent No 2 (accused) tender of Rs 5,000 to the son the complainant, it said.