Monday, February 26, 2024

Supreme Court stays anticipatory bail granted to rape accused Kerala lawyers

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The Supreme Court stayed a Kerala High Court order granting anticipatory bail to two lawyers accused of raping their client on Friday. A bench comprising Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Sanjay Karol sought the response of the Kerala government and the accused in the plea lodged by the survivor challenging the grant of pre-arrest bail to the lawyers. 

The top court bench was hearing an appeal challenging an October 10 Kerala High Court order. 

Meanwhile, Kerala High Court judge, Justice Gopinath P had taken cognizance of the fact that the client filed a complaint against the accused only in June 2023, even though she had claimed she was sexually abused from the time she had approached one of the lawyers for filing her divorce case before a family court in 2021.

The Kerala High Court had noted that the material on record appears to support the allegation that the complaint was filed because the complainant was aggrieved that she did not receive sufficient compensation during divorce proceedings. Hence, the court had granted anticipatory bail to the two accused lawyers, subject to execution of bail bonds of Rs 50,000 each.

The accused lawyers had been directed to cooperate with the investigation, to not influence or intimidate any witness or the complainant or victim.

As per the prosecution’s case, two practicing lawyers had sexually abused their client after she approached one of the lawyers for legal help in her divorce case. Consecutively, both the lawyers were booked for offences under Sections 376 (rape), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 120B (criminal conspiracy), and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

However, the accused have denied the complainant’s allegations and claimed that the victim had filed a police complaint after she failed to get sufficient compensation in her divorce case. The lawyers had argued that the complainant was also aggrieved by the fact that the petitioner-lawyers could not follow through on their offers to give her financial aid to help in educating her child or help her buy a house.

Furthermore, the advocates had eventually transferred Rs 3 lakhs to the survivor on the advice of their friends and relatives, it was submitted. The accused lawyers also mentioned that on July 3 this year, the survivor gave a statement to the Kozhikode Police Commissioner that any relationship between her and the accused had been purely consensual, adding that she had not wished to prosecute the complaint in any manner.

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