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SC scrapes HC’s ‘Tie rakhi to victim to get bail’ order in sex assault case

The Supreme Court dismissed an order passed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court that told the accused in a sexual assault case to get a “rakhi” tied by the victim in order to avail bail.

The petition that was being heard in the top court was submitted from 9 women lawyers. The SC called out the stereotypes and ordered for no such incident to be repeated.

It further issued instructions to sensitize judges and lawyers to make better decisions, aligning its direction to the petitioners’ pointers stating the HC order to be “gross trivialization of the trauma suffered by the complainant.” Challenging the condition placed for the accused to get bail, the 9 women lawyers argued that those kinds of orders objectify women.

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Scrapping the controversial order, the top court said, “Bail conditions and orders should avoid reflecting stereotypical or patriarchal notions about women and their place in society… in other words, discussions about the dress, behaviour, or past “conduct” or “morals”of the prosecutrix should not enter the verdict granting bail.”

Bail conditions and prerequisites “should not mandate, require or permit contact” between the accused and the woman. If any condition has to be put forward, they should work towards protecting the woman from any more harassment from the accused.

Courts should not find or advice ways or even encourage any steps to create compromises between the accused and woman in order for him to receive the bail, the SC said, mentioning its application in gender-related crimes in particular.

The incident took place over the bail request submitted by Vikram Bagri, a prisoner of Ujjain’s jail who was convicted of sexually assaulting his neighbour. It was filed in April 2020 in Indore city.

Madhya Pradesh High Court’s Indore Bench granted him bail on a set of conditions. Getting a rakhi tied by the woman (victim) in her house on the eve of Rakshabandhan was one of these conditions.

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It further told the accused man to pledge that he will protect his victim as a brother. The court also directed him to pay Rs. 11,000 to her and another Rs. 5000 to her son for buying sweets and clothes.

Photographs of this event have to be taken and presented to the court, it had demanded.
However, the Supreme Court had put a hold on the accused’s release and bail order.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, assisting the SC in the case, raised questions over the condition put forward for granting bail. He said the High Court judge who passed the order had taken part in “plain drama” while stressing over the need of gender sensitization to stop the growing number of judges who trivialize sexual crimes and hurt the dignity of the women.

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Issuing multiple directions over the case, the top court called for the establishment of training modules to sensitize judges and advocates.