New Delhi: Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India Sharad Bobde on Monday asked a government employee, who is seeking protection from arrest in a rape case, if he is willing to marry the survivor.
It asked Mohit Subhash Chavan (23) from Maharashtra, accused of raping a minor girl studying then in Class IX in 2016 when she was 16, whether he will marry her.
It was hearing a petition filed by the man who is now an electricity department employee in the state, against an order of the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court, canceling his anticipatory bail.
In another case, the Bench stayed the arrest of the alleged rapist for eight weeks, allowing him to withdraw the petition with liberty to seek discharge from the Allahabad High Court, which is seized of the matter of the woman registering an FIR of alleged rape against him after living with him for years as husband and wife.
“When two people are living as husband and wife, however brutal the husband is, can the act of sexual intercourse between them be called rape,” asked the CJI. He was responding to the petition seeking quashing of the FIR alleging rape due to false promise of marriage.
The shocking and insensitive statements by the CJI left everyone disgusted. Following this, an open letter from women’s groups started doing rounds on social media.
The letter demanded an apology to the women of the country from Bobde and asked him to step down from the post of CJI.
“It fills us with rage that women bear the burden of having to explain the meaning of ‘seduction’, ‘rape’, and ‘marriage’ even to the Chief Justice of India, who holds the power and duty to interpret the Constitution of India and sit in judgment.” the letter read.
“Enough is enough. Your words, scandalize and lower the authority of the Court. From the towering heights of the post of CJI of the Supreme Court, it sends the message to other courts, judges, police, and all other law-enforcing agencies that justice is not a constitutional right of women in India. This will only lead to the further silencing of girls and women, a process that took decades to break. To the rapists, it sends the message that marriage is a license to rape; and that by obtaining such a license, the rapist can post facto decriminalize and legalize his act,” it further stated.
Doesn’t matter if you are a feminist or not, but if you are one of those who thinks this is ‘okay’ then maybe you are part of the problem. The biggest irony is, we have Women’s Day just around the corner, and no stones shall be left unturned by this country to remind us how ‘special’ women are while the Chief Justice asks the accused to marry the survivor and dismisses marital rape.