Judge's rape remark insensitive: Delhi high court
Smriti Singh, TNN Jan 7, 2014, 12.07AM IST
NEW DELHI: Just a day before a fast-track court, set up exclusively to deal with cases of sexual offence against women, said that pre-marital sex "is not only immoral but also against the tenets of every religion", Delhi high court had passed a stern order against the same court for giving "sermons" to "the feminine gender as a class" in one of its previous orders.
The HC had taken suo motu cognizance of the remarks made in the October 7, 2013 rape case decided by additional sessions judge Virender Bhat, wherein he had said, "They voluntarily elope with their lovers to explore the greener pastures of bodily pleasure, and on return to their homes, they conveniently fabricate the story of kidnap and rape in order to escape scolds and harsh treatment from the parents."
The trial court had further said, "The girls are morally and socially bound not to indulge in sexual intercourse before a proper marriage, and if they do so, it would be to their peril and they cannot be heard to cry later on that it was rape."
In its order pronounced on December 19, 2013, a division bench of justices Pradeep Nandrajog and V Kameswar Rao held that the trial court's observations were "prima facie insensitive" and were "capable of influencing the police to take up women harassment cases lightly, resulting in an insensitive investigation and complete evidence not being brought before the court."
The HC asked State Judicial Academy to nominate the judge as a participant "whenever a topic on gender sensitivity is discussed". The bench further said that the "sweeping observations" against the girl in the case were "not based on the evidence on record".
"It is apparent that the remarks, which are general in nature, are not based on the evidence on record (and) appear to be the result of the experience of the judge...The judge has imparted his personal knowledge pertaining to females in the decision-making," the bench said.
Just a day after the HC passed its order, ASJ Bhat, on December 20, observed in another rape case that pre-marital sex is "not only immoral but also against the tenets of every religion. No religion in the world allows pre-marital sex".
While absolving the man of the charge of rape- he had been accused of having sexual intercourse with a woman after obtaining her consent on the false promise of marriage - the court observed, "When a grown-up, educated and office-going woman subjects herself to sexual intercourse with a friend or colleague on the latter's promise that he would marry her, she does so at her own peril."
While his comments once again stirred up a controversy, ASJ Bhat has been known for speaking his mind in his orders. In November last year, while acquitting a youth who was accused of kidnapping and raping a minor girl with whom he was in love and had married her, the judge asked the parents to "impart good moral values and education" to their children to curb the menace of elopement and runaway marriages.
He had also stoked a debate in May 2012, when he criticized the proposed law by the government to raise the age of consent for sex from 16 years to 18. Terming it as "undemocratic" and "regressive", the judge had said the move would open "floodgates for the prosecution of the boys for offences of rape, on the basis of complaints by the parents of the girl, no matter (even if) the girl would have been the consenting party and offer to have sexual intercourse may have come from her side."
SOURCE - http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2014-01-07/delhi/45954737_1_trial-court-delhi-high-court