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Appeal against rakhi-tying condition for bail; ‘a gross trivialization of trauma suffered,’ say 9 lawyers

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New Delhi (ILNS): Nine women lawyers, including Supreme Court advocate Aparna Bhat, have sought a stay in a July 30 order of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in which a judge had given bail to a sexual offender on the condition that he ties a rakhi on the woman whose modesty he allegedly outraged. The women lawyers call this “a gross trivialization of the trauma suffered by the complainant.”

The plea has been filed through advocate Pukhrambam Ramesh Kumar, seeking a stay on the condition of bail.

Overall, the case was a bit out of the ordinary. Vikram Bagri (26), who lives in the Bhatapachalana area of Ujjain, was accused of forcibly entering the house of a woman living in the neighborhood on April 20. The allegation is that he held the hand of the woman with bad intentions. A case was registered against Bagri under Sections 452 and 354.

Justice Rohit Arya of the High Court‘s Indore bench, after hearing arguments from both sides, decided to grant bail to Bagri. Justice Arya had attached an interesting set of conditions while granting bail. The judge said the accused should go to the house of the woman in question with his wife on Rakshabandhan day, with a rakhi and sweets. The accused should request the woman to tie the rakhi. At the same time, he should, as a brother, promise to protect her in the future. The court said in its order that he should also give Rs 11,000 to the complainant as the customary ritual usually offered by brothers to sisters on such occasion and shall also seek her blessings.

The plea from the nine lawyers in the Supreme Court states:

“The Hon’ble High Court ought to have been cognizant and sensitive to the fact that in a case involving a sexual offense having been committed against a woman, it is immeasurably difficult for the survivor to lodge an FIR and pursue a criminal case against the accused…”

Rakshabandhan is a festival of guardianship between brothers and sisters, and the said bail condition amounts “to a gross trivialization of the trauma suffered by the Complainant in the present case.”

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The Petition laid emphasis that the alleged offense of outraging the victim’s modesty, in this case, was committed by the accused by forcibly entering the victim’s house. Therefore, the High Court‘s direction that the accused visiting the victim’s house would also lead to the “victimization of the survivor in her own house.”

The matter is fixed on October 16 for further hearing.

-India Legal Bureau

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