18 Mar 2021: Supreme Court sets aside 'rakhi-for-bail' order in sexual assault case
The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside a judgment of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in a sexual assault case wherein the accused was asked to get a "rakhi" tied by the victim to get bail.
In Hindu culture, a rakhi is a string tied by women around the wrists of their brothers as a symbol of the latter's responsibility to protect them.
Court: SC was hearing petition against HC's July 2020 order
An SC bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and S Ravindra Bhat heard a petition filed by advocate Aparna Bhat and eight other woman lawyers challenging a July 2020 order of the MP High Court.
The HC order passed by Justice Rohit Arya had directed the accused to get the victim to tie him a rakhi to be eligible for bail.
Order: Accused was asked to 'seek blessings' from victim
The HC had directed the accused and his wife to visit the complainant's house on Raksha Bandhan day with a rakhi thread and a box of sweets.
The accused was ordered to give Rs. 11,000 to the complainant as "usually offered by brothers to sisters" and to seek her blessings.
He was also ordered to give an additional Rs. 5,000 to the complainant's son.
Quote: 'Using rakhi transforms molester into brother'
The SC said, "Using rakhi tying as a condition for bail, transforms a molester into a brother, by a judicial mandate."
It added, "The act perpetrated on the survivor constitutes an offense in law, and is not a minor transgression that can be remedied by way of an apology, rendering community service, tying a rakhi or presenting a gift to the survivor."
SC: SC passes 7 key directions in cases of sexual offense
In its judgment, the court passed seven key directions to be adhered to by courts while passing bail orders in cases of sexual offenses:
Bail conditions should not mandate, require or permit contact between the accused and the victim.
Bail conditions must seek to protect the complainant from any harassment by the accused.
Bail conditions must be free from stereotypical/parental notions of women.
SC: Judges should display sensitivity at all times: SC
The complainant should immediately be informed if and when the accused is granted bail.
The court should not suggest or entertain notions toward compromises between the complainant and the accused.
Sensitivity should be displayed at all times by judges.
Judges should not use any words—spoken or written—that would undermine or shake the confidence of the survivor in the fairness or impartiality of the court.