Human rights and women’s groups on Tuesday condemned the argument made by Ram Jethmalani, godman Asaram Bapu’s lawyer, in the Rajasthan High Court on Monday.
Mr. Jethmalani, who sought bail for his client, told the court that the girl, who accused the godman of sexual assault, was afflicted with a chronic disease which “draws a woman to a man.”
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and other groups said Mr. Jethmalani’s assertion violated the law, as stating the sexual history of victims in rape and sexual assault cases was not permitted.
“Indulging in character assassination of a woman in rape cases, and in this incident involving a minor, shows the low level to which even senior lawyers of Mr. Jethmalani’s stature can stoop in order to influence the court,” the organisations said in a statement.
Mr. Jethmalani had also raised questions about the complainant’s mental condition and age, and contended that the girl, who is yet to be proved a minor, was suffering from a “psychological disorder” which made her want to meet men alone. He demanded a police probe into this aspect of the case.
Taking strong exception to the line of argument adopted by the senior lawyer, women’s groups have threatened to write to the Bar Council of India against “this slander,” and get Mr. Jethmalani debarred.
The signatories to the statement included Kavita Srivastava of PUCL, Renuka Pamecha of Women’s Rehabilitation Group, Kusum Saiwal and Sumitra Chopra of Rajasthan Janwadi Mahila Samiti, Mamta Jaitly of Vividha, Nisha Sidhu of National Federation of Indian Women, Nishat Hussain of National Muslim Women’s Welfare Society, Meeta Singh of Dignity of the Girl Child Foundation and Shabnam Aziz of Action Aid.