AG stresses on gender sensitisation, tells SC about need to educate judges

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New Delhi, Nov 2 (PTI) Orders in sexual assault cases asking the accused to get the victim to tie him a 'rakhi' are “drama”, Attorney General K K Venugopal said on Monday while stressing the need for gender sensitisation and educating judges on the necessity of focusing on facts particularly when imposing bail conditions.

The country’s top law officer was addressing a Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar, which was hearing an appeal against a Madhya Pradesh High Court order granting bail to an accused in a molestation case on the condition that he requests the alleged victim to tie a ‘rakhi’.

When Venugopal said there should be gender sensitisation, the bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, observed, “Gender sensitisation will be part of our order.” Venugopal told the court that the national judicial academy and state academies should teach that this is not permissible. Judges' recruitment exams should also have a portion on gender sensitisation, he said.

“Orders in sexual assault cases which ask accused to get a 'rakhi' tied from the victim are drama,” he told the bench.

Judges need to focus on facts of the matter, he said. The appeal by nine women lawyers has sought a stay on the July 30 Madhya Pradesh High Court order and said courts across the country should be restrained from imposing such conditions as these are “against the principle of law”.

The high court had granted bail to the accused and imposed a condition that he along with his wife shall visit the house of the complainant and request her to tie a ‘rakhi’ with the promise of protecting her to the best of his ability for all time to come.

During the hearing conducted through video-conferencing, Venugopal referred to the high court order and said, “So far as the present case is concerned, it seems they have been carried away. There are already judgements that judges have to restrict themselves to the fact of matter, especially bail conditions.” “In judicial academy, top court judgements should be taught and put before trial courts and high court so judges know what needs to be done,” he said.

The bench asked Venugopal whether he could give a short note.

“The discretion on bail conditions needs to be seen… what is permissible and what is not permissible. This is one way of doing it. In judgement, we can say what needs to be done,” it said.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for the petitioners, including lawyer Aparna Bhat, said they can give a note as suggested by the attorney general.

“Give a note what can be done and what cannot be done. The attorney general, petitioner and intervenors can file note. List after three weeks on November 27,” the bench said.

The petitioners had earlier told the apex court that the appeal was filed in an “extraordinary circumstance” as the victim’s trauma had been trivialised by such conditions.

In their appeal, the petitioners have sought a stay on the bail condition imposed on the accused by the high court.

The plea said substantial questions of law, including whether in a case seeking bail it is appropriate for a court to impose extraneous conditions which allows contact between the accused and the complainant, are involved in the matter.

“Whether the bail condition which is impugned herein stands to further victimize the complainant and trivialise the trauma that she has suffered,” the plea said.

“Whether the above mentioned bail condition is in line with the principles that govern trials within the criminal justice system?” it asked.

It said another question of law which arises for consideration of the apex court in the matter is whether the high court ought to have employed circumspection and sensitivity while dealing with a case involving a sexual offence having been committed against a woman. PTI MNL ABA SJK ABA MIN MIN