Kerala

SC dismisses Rehana Fathima’s bail plea

File photo of activist Rehana Fathima when she tried to offer prayers at Sabarimala Temple.

File photo of activist Rehana Fathima when she tried to offer prayers at Sabarimala Temple.   | Photo Credit: PTI

A Supreme Court Bench led by Justice Arun Mishra asked Kerala activist Rehana Fathima what kind of message of the “entire culture of the country” is she giving her children by allowing them to paint on her half-nude body and “spreading the obscenity”.

Ms. Fathima, who is seeking bail, clarified her stand through senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan that “for a man to stand with his dhoti tucked up is no offence, for a woman it is. I only wanted to sensitise my children to that”.

“This is obscenity which you are spreading... Clearly what you are doing is obscenity”, Justice Mishra insisted during a virtual court hearing on Friday.

He asked why Ms. Fathima did all this. “You may be an activist. Are you aware of what may be happening to these growing up children? What impression will they get of the entire culture of this country?”, he said.

Mr. Sankaranarayanan urged the court to look at the larger context. He said the investigation was over and police have already raided her home. “Why should my liberty be at stake?”, the senior lawyer asked.

The court, however, dismissed her appeal.

High Court order

Ms. Fathima had moved the Supreme Court against a Kerala High Court order denying her anticipatory bail in cases concerning an edited video on social media allegedly of her minor children painting on her semi-nude body.

Ms. Fathima had raised two questions of law concerning the application of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and the provisions of the Information Technology law against her.

She said the cases against her violated her fundamental right of life, liberty and dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution.

She asked “whether female nudity [even when not visible] per se constitutes obscenity?” and “whether children painting on their mother s body can be concluded to be ‘sexual gratification’ and ‘child abuse’ under these stringent laws?”.

The petition said “there can probably be nobody except a pervert who would be aroused to sexual desire by seeing the nature of the work. In addition, the petitioner’s message accompanying the uploaded edited video makes it clear that she intended to normalise the female form for her children and not allow the distorted ideas of sexualisation to pervade their minds”.

“Goddesses in Kerala are frequently depicted in idols and murals with bare breasts. When one prays at the temple, the feeling is not of sexual arousal but one of divinity”, the petition said, citing several other instances to explain the social context in Kerala.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2020 8:13:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/sc-dismisses-rehana-fathimas-bail-plea/article32293872.ece

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