Judiciary needs to be gender sensitive or we will see more ‘rakhi for bail’ orders!

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November 4, 2020 6:30 AM

Madhya Pradesh HC ‘rakhi for bail’ order vitiates against justice. AG is right, judiciary needs to be gender sensitive

A judge’s position should be to interpret the law, not act on regressive personal understanding of a crime and its context.A judge’s position should be to interpret the law, not act on regressive personal understanding of a crime and its context.

Earlier this year, in a rather strange order, the Madhya Pradesh High Court granted bail to a person accused of sexual assault if he got a rakhi tied by the assault victim and paid Rs 11,000 as rakhi gift. While judges can be expected to have a more nuanced understanding of the law than laypersons, the order reeks of the kind of regressive pronouncements expected of the so-called ‘caste councils’.

It is therefore not surprising that Attorney General KK Venugopal has come out against the order and suggested that judges go through gender sensitisation training. The AG, while condemning the order, said “…the court seems to have been carried away. Courts must restrict themselves to conditions under 437 and 438 (Sections of the CrPC).

All this is drama and needs to be condemned.” While the SC has asked for written submissions from all parties, the fact is that this is not the only instance of such poor judicial functioning. In another case this year, the Calcutta HC had granted bail to an accused, in the case of a minor’s rape, after the accused consented to marry the girl now that she has attained majority.

A judge’s position should be to interpret the law, not act on regressive personal understanding of a crime and its context. Gender sensitivity training would undoubtedly go a long way, but the judiciary itself needs to take a stern view against such orders or rulings. In Canada, after a judge harangued a victim in court, asking her why she didn’t try hard enough to avoid rape, he was removed from his position.

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