In a letter to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) S.A. Bobde for his comments on two rape cases, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat said “rape victims are not robots whose thoughts and feelings are under remote control of others”.
In one of the cases, the CJI reportedly asked a 23-year-old government servant whether he would marry the woman who had accused him of rape . The court granted interim protection for four weeks to the rapist and asked him to apply for regular bail.
Ms. Karat demanded that Chief Justice Bobde withdraw his comments and also the bail granted to the accused. At the time of the crime, the girl was merely a 16-year-old, she was gagged and raped. And the trauma even forced her to attempt suicide. “Is her suffering, her trauma of no consequence, of no value? Rape victims are not robots whose thoughts and feelings are under remote control of others,” Ms. Karat observed.
She stated that the CJI’s comments send out a message that a rapist could escape the law if he agreed to marry the victim. “There is a prevailing retrograde social approach that the victim of rape is a “bad” woman and if the rapist marries her, she gains respectability in the eyes of society. Comments of the apex court should not give the impression of supporting such approaches,” Ms. Karat wrote.
In the second case, the apex court stayed the arrest of a man accused of rape by his former partner , with Chief Justice Bobde commenting “however brutal the husband is... when two people (are) living as husband and wife... can sexual intercourse between them be called rape?’"
Ms Karat said, “Yes sir it can be called rape. Rape is determined not by a marriage certificate but whether or not the woman consented to have sexual intercourse. The comments reportedly made justify brutality and cause harm to the woman.”
These comments, she added, were a setback for the women struggling to seek justice.