Skip to main content

Justice Bobde 'justifying' sexual violence, must resign: Gender rights leaders, NGOs

Counterview Desk 

Even as the International Women’s Day approaches, more than 4,000 eminent and concerned citizens, women’s rights and other civil society groups, raising strong voice against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde’s remark, asking a rape accused whether he was willing to marry the victim, have said that the statement is not only regressive but legitimises any kind of sexual, physical and mental violence.
Seeking an apology for his remark, in a letter to CJI, the statement says, “Propriety demands you step down without a moment’s delay”. He made the statement while hearing a petition for protection from arrest of a man accused of stalking, tying up, gagging, repeatedly raping a minor school going girl, and threatening to douse her in petrol and set her alight, to hurl acid at her, and to have her brother killed.
The letter says, “Facts of the case are that the rape came to light when the minor school-going victim attempted suicide”, underlining, the comment by CJI suggests he appears to believe that women should “bear the burden of having to explain the meaning of ‘seduction’, ‘rape’, and ‘marriage’.”
The letter cites another second case (Vinay Pratap Singh vs State of UP), where CJI reportedly commented that “if a couple is living together as man and wife, the husband may be a brutal man, but can you call the act of sexual intercourse between a lawfully wedded man and wife as rape?”
Criticising the comment, the letter states that it not only legitimises any kind of sexual, physical and mental violence by the husband, but it normalises the torture that Indian women have been facing within marriages for years without any legal recourse.
Among those who have signed the statement are Annie Raja, Kavita Krishnan, Kamla Bhasin, Meera Sanghamitra, Arudhati Dhuru, Maimoona Mollah, Admiral L Ramdas, Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Pamela Phillipose, Anand Sahay, Devaki Jain and John Dayal. The fifty-odd groups that have signed it include the All India Progressive Women’s Association, All India Democratic Women’s Association, National Federation of Indian Women, Saheli, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Bebaak Collective, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan, and others.

Text:

We the representatives of India’s women’s movements and progressive movements along with concerned citizens, are appalled and outraged at the remarks made by you during the hearing in Mohit Subhash Chavan vs the State of Maharashtra & Anr on March 1, 2021, as reported by the media.
You were hearing the petition for protection from arrest, of a man accused of stalking, tying up, gagging, repeatedly raping a minor school going girl, and threatening to douse her in petrol and set her alight, to hurl acid at her, and to have her brother killed. The facts of the case are that the rape came to light when the minor school-going victim attempted suicide. You asked this man if he was willing to marry his victim, saying he should have thought of the consequences of ‘seducing and raping’ a minor girl. By suggesting that this rapist marry the victim-survivor, you, the Chief Justice of India, sought to condemn the victim-survivor to a lifetime of rape at the hands of the tormentor who drove her to attempt suicide!
It fills us with rage that women bear the burden of having to explain the meaning of ‘seduction’, ‘rape’, and ‘marriage’ even to the Chief Justice of India, who holds the power and duty to interpret the Constitution of India and sit in judgement.
‘Seduction’ is an act in which both parties participate consensually. Rape is a violation of consent and a person’s bodily integrity, hence nothing but an act of violence. The two cannot be conflated under any circumstances. Furthermore, when the victim is a minor, absence of consent is a legal assumption.
In another case (Vinay Pratap Singh vs State of UP) also reported in the media yesterday, you asked, ‘If a couple is living together as man and wife, the husband may be a brutal man, but can you call the act of sexual intercourse between a lawfully wedded man and wife as rape?’ This comment not only legitimises any kind of sexual, physical and mental violence by the husband, but it normalises the torture that Indian women have been facing within marriages for years without any legal recourse.
The Bombay High Court held the Sessions Court order giving bail to Mohit Subhash Chavan to be ‘atrocious’, adding that, ‘the approach of the learned Judge from such a reasoning clearly
shows his utter lack of sensitivity in such serious matters.’ These same observations apply to your remarks, albeit in far greater measure. Your proposal of marriage as an amicable solution to settle the case of rape of a minor girl is worse than atrocious and insensitive for it deeply erodes the right of victims to seek justice.
Women in India continue to confront grossly patriarchal attitudes by persons in authority who propose ‘compromise’ solutions for rape. “The reality of what a compromise means is brought home by several judgments which note how the survivor or a relative committed suicide or was murdered for resisting a settlement with her rapist.” (‘It is Not the Job of Courts to Arrange ‘Compromise Marriages' of Rape Survivors’, “The Wire”, June 26, 2015).
We bore witness when your predecessor sat in judgement over an accusation of sexual harassment against himself, and lobbed false, defamatory attacks on the complainant and her family from the Bench of the Supreme Court. An appeal against the atrocious acquittal of a convicted rapist on the premise that a woman’s ‘Feeble No might mean a Yes’ was not admitted. You have asked why women farmers are being ‘kept’ in protests against farm laws and asked for them to be ‘sent back home’– again, implying that women lack the autonomy and personhood that men do.Then yesterday, Then yesterday, you said, "If a couple is living together as man and wife, the husband may be a brutal man, but can you call the act of sexual intercourse between a lawfully wedded man and wife as rape."
Enough is enough. Your words, scandalise and lower the authority of the Court. From the towering heights of the post of CJI of the Supreme Court, it sends the message to other courts, judges, police and all other law enforcing agencies that justice is not a constitutional right of women in India. This will only lead to the further silencing of girls and women, a process that took decades to break. To the rapists, it sends the message that marriage is a licence to rape; and that by obtaining such a licence, the rapist can post facto decriminalise and legalise his act.
We demand that you retract the words you stated in court on March 1, 2021 and tender an apology to the women of this country.
Propriety demands that you step down from the post of CJI without a moment’s delay.
---
Click here for the list of persons/NGOs which have endorsed the statement

Comments

TRENDING

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

Employment loss vis-a-vis pre-Covid situation 'neutralized', claim Govt of India data

By Arup Mitra, DPS Negi, Puneet Kumar Shrivastav* The Labour Bureau, an attached office of the Ministry of Labour & Employment, has been entrusted with the task of conducting the All-India Quarterly Establishment based Employment Survey (AQEES) which has two components namely Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) in respect of establishments employing 10 or more workers (mostly constituting ‘organised’ segment) and Area Frame Establishment Survey (AFES) to build up a frame in respect of establishments employing nine or less workers.

How green revolution led to 'deterioration' of Punjab economy, land, air and water

By Dr Gian Singh*  A recent research paper, based on a survey of 320 farming families in four districts of Punjab, has tried to show that high crop densities and the use of inputs have led to degradation of land, air, water and humans through a rich agricultural structure. Although mechanization has increased agricultural productivity, it has also caused environmental degradation.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.