SC to seek AG’s views on courts imposing bail conditions for sex crime offenders

Nine women lawyers brought to court’s attention a bail order passed by Madhya Pradesh HC in a sexual assault case recently which ‘trivialised the victim’s trauma’.

The Supreme Court on Friday decided to seek the views of Attorney General K.K. Venugopal about courts imposing bail conditions for sex crime offenders which end up further harassing, objectifying their victims.

A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar decided to take into “consideration the position” of Mr. Venugopal, the government’s topmost law officer and constitutional authority, after nine women lawyers brought to the court’s attention a bail order passed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court in a sexual assault case recently.

The High Court, as a condition for grant of bail, ordered the accused man to visit his victim at home on ‘Rakshabandhan’ and “allow” her to tie a ‘rakhi’ on him.

The Bench scheduled a hearing on November 2.

The nine lawyers, led by advocate Aparna Bhat and represented by senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, said the High Court order was a “trivialisation of her (victim’s) trauma”.

Mr. Parikh said there were many such instances of court orders which objectified women already traumatised by the crimes committed against them.

The law prescribed the victim to be kept far away from the accused. Instead, here, the Madhya Pradesh High Court had ordered the accused to visit the home of the woman — the very place where the crime was alleged to have occurred.

The petition said the High Court had further ordered the accused to gift the woman ₹11,000 “as a customary ritual usually offered by brothers to sisters on such occasion and shall also seek her blessings”.

It had also ordered the accused to offer ₹5,000 to the woman’s son for the “purchase of clothes and sweets”.

Mr. Parikh said such orders only succeeded in victimising the woman and retard the years of work done to sensitise the courts about how damaging it would be to attempt a compromise “by way of marriage or mediation between the accused and the survivor”.

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