As thousands of feminists, right groups, and concerned citizens have called for the Chief Justice of India to step down, his remarks highly reflect the misogyny of lawmakers in the country. Had it been a patriarchal community decision that is carried out in villages by the ‘Khap Panchayats,’ it would be understood. The ‘Khap Panchayats,’ or Village Elders, often offer such compromises between the rape victim and rape accused to give the rape victim what they contemplate is Justice.
The rape accused is asked to marry the victim, who is mostly stigmatized in society for a crime that she did not commit, assuming that this way they can help the rape victim to lead a peaceful life. But when such remarks or compromise offers come from the senior-most judge of the senior-most court in India, it puts at stake the mere sanctity of an apex court that has sworn to uphold the constitutional rights of women.
If you want to marry (her), we can help you, Or Go to Jail: Chief Justice India says to Rape Accused
The Chief Justice of India asked similar questions to an alleged rapist who has brought outrage amongst the women’s group in India. ‘Sharad Bobde,’ the CJI, asked the 23-year-old man accused of rape if he would marry the girl whom he raped when she was a minor school-going girl in 2014-15. The Judge gave the rape accused an option to either marry the girl or lose his job and go to Jail. His remarks have been highly criticized, and an open letter has been signed by more than 5,000 petitioners asking the judge to quit.
The open letter also mentions that the rape accused is charged with stalking, gagging, and tying up the then 16-year-old school-going girl and repeatedly raping her for a long period of time. The alleged rapist also threatened to douse the girl and set her on fire, to throw acid on her, and to kill her brother. Even after these horrific accusations, CJI Bobde has chosen to overlook the legality of the crime and present a mindset that encourages to decriminalize rape and legalize it by marriage, says the open letter.
When Constitution Turns to Compromise; what course does the Law take?
The rape accused, named ‘Mohit Subhash Chavan’, who is a government employee in the State of Maharashtra, was charged under the Prevention of Child Sexual Offences Act after the 16-year old victim tried to attempt suicide. Earlier, when the girl’s family found out about the rape, they were assured by the rapist’s family that when the girl is an adult, Chavan will marry her. The girl’s family has alleged that because of this compromise, they did not go to the police. But when the accused married someone else, the girl’s family went to the police. Chavan pleaded to the court that he would lose his job if put in jail and was therefore granted anticipatory bail. However, the Bombay High Court canceled the bail calling the previous order “atrocious.” Following this, the man pleaded in Supreme Court, where he received protection from arrest for four weeks on Monday. There, Justice Bobde in his 3-bench team made the infamous offer to Chavan, the rape accused.
Chief Justice Bobde’s Remarks on Marital Rape
The open letter that highly criticizes Justice Bobde’s remarks says that this solution will rather condemn the victim girl to a lifetime of rape as she would be subject to abuse by her tormentor, who drove her to attempt suicide. The top Judge’s comments which show an attempt to work out a ‘compromise’ between both sides, have been criticized in addition to another hearing comment which Justice Bobde made in regards to marital rape.’
India is one of those countries which does not criminalize Marital Rape, even after long campaigns in the country, and even the United Nations recommendation to recognize the same. In a hearing where the woman accused his live-in partner of rape, Justice Bobde said 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”? This comment led the campaigners to call upon the CJI for setting the wrong precedents in other cases too. The letter demands Justice Bobde to resign immediately.
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