Falling asleep after ‘being ravished’, very unbecoming of an Indian woman: K’taka HC

This was a part of the rationale given while granting pre arrest bail to a rape accused

BailImage Courtesy:rediff.com

A recent Karnataka High Court order granting anticipatory bail to a rape accused has taken sexual violence jurisprudence back by decades. In what can be termed as a substantially regressive rationale for giving bail to a rape accused which could affect the trial of the case, the court said that the fact that the complainant slept after the alleged crime is unbecoming of an Indian woman.

The accused was booked under charges of rape, cheating and criminal intimidation under the Indian penal Code (IPC) and under penal section of Information Technology Act under section 66B [Punishment for dishonestly receiving stolen computer resource].

The single judge bench of Justice Krishna Dixit in order dated June 22, considered the government pleader’s contention that the charges against the accused were serious and an offender like him should not be let out in the society. The court said that seriousness of the charges is not the only criteria to deny bail and whether there is prima facie case, also needs to be considered.

The court disbelieved the allegation of the complainant that she was subjected to rape on the false promise of marriage given that the accused presented a letter as proof whereby the complainant was ready to reach compromise to withdraw this case; also the court speculated why the complainant did not approach the court earlier when the accused was allegedly asking her for sexual favours.

Further, the court also questioned why the complainant went to her office at 11 pm; why she did not object to consumption of drinks (sic); why she allowed the accused to stay with her till morning. The court said that the complainant’s explanation that she fell asleep after the alleged crime is “unbecoming of a woman; that is not the way our women react when they are ravished”.

The court granted anticipatory bail to the accused on the principle of ‘granting of bail is rule and denial is exception’ as also keeping in mind the Covid-19 pandemic posing a threat to infection in prisons. When the pleader for the complainant contended that if granted bail it would be difficult to secure the accused person’s presence for investigation or trial, the court said it would levy stricter conditions.

The rape accused was thus granted pre arrest bail subject to the following conditions:

(i) petitioner shall execute a Personal Bond for a sum of Rs.1,00,000/- (Rupees one lakh) only with two sureties for the like sum;

(ii) petitioner shall cooperate in the investigation/further investigation at all times and appear before the jurisdictional police, if & when, so directed;

(iii) petitioner shall not leave the jurisdictional limits of the trial Court without its prior permission;

(iv) petitioner shall mark his attendance in the jurisdictional Police Station every second and fourth Saturday of the calendar month between 9.00 am and 3.00 pm;

(v) the petitioner shall not tamper the evidence or influence/deter the witnesses/victims; nor shall he do anything prejudicial to peace & order in the civil society;

(vi) it is open to the jurisdictional police or the complainant to seek cancellation of bail if & when petitioner commits breach of any of the above conditions or perpetrates any offence hereafter.

While considering whether there is prima facie case against the accused, the court has seemingly disregarded the complainant’s allegations in toto, based on extremely regressive and perilously patriarchal views. The bone of contention is not why the accused was granted bail but the rationale on which he was granted bail which is problematic. This order will not only adversely affect the trail in this case but it also sets a bad precedent for sexual violence jurisprudence.

The order can be read here.


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