Skip to main content

Araria gangrape: How Bihar district court showed 'complete insensitivity' towards victim

Prashant Bhushan, Vrinda Grover, Indira Jaising
Counterview Desk
In a letter to the Patna High Court chief justice and other judges, as many as 376 lawyers, including senior Supreme Court advocates Indira Jaising, Prashant Bhushan and Vrinda Grover, have sought “urgent and systemic changes in the treatment of survivors of violent sexual crimes in the Araria District Court, Bihar”, following an incident, in which a gangrape victim was remanded into judicial custody in Dallighsarai jail, along with two of her caretakers/friends, about 240 km from Araria. 
Charged with contempt of course instead of taking into account her emotional state in the court four days after the heinous crime took place, the letter says, “We submit that the remand into judicial custody is excessive and harsh given the circumstances. The survivor’s emotional state is extremely fragile and we fear that the separation from her caregivers and incarceration will have an adverse effect on her health.”

Text:

We, the undersigned are lawyers practicing in different places across the country, who also believe in creating a robust criminal justice system, which is responsive to the needs of survivors of violent sexual crimes. We have received news of a very disturbing incident in distant Araria, and involving a 22-year-old, who was violently gang-raped on July 6, and her two caregivers/friends.
While recording her Section 164 statement on July 10, the learned magistrate perceived her disoriented state of mind as a personal affront and remanded her (and her two caregivers) into custody for contempt of court. 
The three have been remanded into judicial custody in Dalsinghsarai Jail, about 240 km from Araria. The survivor’s details, including her father’s name and full address, have also been disclosed in the local press. The news reports cite the Court staff as having provided the details.
At this stage, we submit that even without going into the various versions of the event that will invariably be brought before your Lordships, there is a need to infuse the incident with some sensitivity and view it from that perspective: it was the fourth day since the incident of gangrape.
The survivor ‘A’ was completely distraught and also very disoriented. She was not eating or sleeping, and also in physical pain. In the course of the four days, she had had to repeat her experience to sundry personnel, often only for voyeuristic purposes.
She had been totally dependent, emotionally, on her caregivers since the incident, and they were also traumatized and exhausted. We respectfully submit that any perceived disrespect must be viewed from this perspective. Victims and their caregivers deserve extra care and sensitivity.
Rather than understanding the fragile state of the three people, they were first remanded to police custody. It may be pointed out that no Covid test was conducted on the survivor, even though she had been gang-raped by several strangers.
Rather than understanding fragile state of the victim, she first remanded to police custody. No Covid test was conducted on the survivor, though she had been gang-raped by strangers
Within hours, and while the three were in police custody, exaggerated accounts of what had transpired during the proceedings were reported on electronic media, together with complete details about the survivor, including her father’s name and her complete address. Shockingly, one such report also carries a photograph of the reporter sitting in the filing section and inspecting her file, with the court clerk and other staff looking on.
The reports published on July 11 in the local papers also state that no FIR has yet been filed in the ‘contempt case’. 
It was only at around 12:30 pm on July 11 that two witnesses were asked to sign on a blank arrest memo and they were informed that FIR no. 61/2020, Araria Mahila Thana, had been filed under the Contempt of Courts Act, which is not applicable to the magistrate’s court; also under Section 353 of the IPC (which is most implausible, even if we accept the facts at face value that the survivor had repeatedly demanded that the Section 164 statement be read out to her by her caregiver and not by the learned magistrate since she could not understand him); Sections 228 and 188 (both bailable).
The three were produced in court and remanded into judicial custody to the District Jail in Dalsinghsarai, 240 km away.
We submit that the remand into judicial custody is excessive and harsh given the circumstances. The survivor’s emotional state is extremely fragile and we fear that the separation from her caregivers and incarceration will have an adverse effect on her health.
It has also resulted in the original case pertaining to gangrape (FIR 59/2020, Araria Mahila Thana) having been put on the backburner, while all attention is focused on the alleged contempt. In popular perception too, the survivor is being maligned: ‘if she is ‘bold’ enough to raise her voice at the magistrate, then of course she is ‘bold’ enough to invite attention’. 
We pray that your Lordships intervene into the matter as it displays a complete lack of sensitivity to a victim of violent sexual crime and to her caregivers.
---
Click here for signatories

Comments

TRENDING

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.