The Karnataka High Court has expunged the controversial comments made about the conduct of the woman-complainant while granting bail to the accused in a rape case in an order passed on June 22.
Justice Krishna S Dixt, while allowing regular bail, had remarked in the order that that it was "unbecoming of an Indian woman" to claim that she had slept after being "ravished".
"The explanation offered by the complainant that after the perpetration of the act she was tired and fell asleep, is unbecoming of an Indian woman; that is not the way our women react when they are ravished", the order had stated.
These comments came under widespread criticism from several quarters as being misogynistic and patriarchal.
On Wednesday, the court allowed an application made by the prosecution seeking to expunge the remarks on the grounds that the observations would have an adverse impact on the pending investigation.
Expunging the remarks, Justice Dixit observed:
"Taking note of the contents of respondent-State's Application which is supported by the accompanying Affidavit and also the No Objection tendered by the petitioner-accused thereto, I deem it appropriate to expunge the last four lines occurring in para No.3(c) at Page 4 of the subject Judgment dated 22.06.2020, as sought for at para 5 of the said Application, the rest having been retained intact."
The order also clarifies that "It hardly needs to be stated that the observations made by this Court in the subject Judgment being confined to consideration & disposal of the bail petition, shall not influence in any way the investigation of the offences alleged and the likely trial thereof."
Senior Advocate C H Hanumantharaya. who appeared for the accused Rakesh B, expressed no objection to the prosecution application seeking to expunge the comments.
"Under Provisions of section 482 of CrPC, the court has powers to expunge the remarks. I was asked to file my reply to the application and accordingly had given my no objection to it. Accordingly the court has expunged the comments", he told LiveLaw.
The accused in the present case was employed by the prosecutrix since past two years. It was alleged that he had developed sexual relations with her on the false pretext of marriage. It was further alleged that on the night of the alleged incident, the petitioner got into the proxsecutrix's car and went to her office with her, where he raped her.
Accordingly, the accused was booked under Sections 376 (sexual assault), 420 (Cheating) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC and under Section 66-B of the Information Technology Act, 2000. He had approached the High Court under Section 439 of CrPC, seeking regular bail.
Justice Dixit was urged by groups of activists, academicians and writers to expunge the comments. In an open letter addressed to the judge, they said that the order was reflective of a "patriarchal mindset".
"We do not accept that guardians of law and order and the Constitution become guardians of women's morality and behaviour, claiming us as "our women" violating our own fundamental right to choose and express our emotions, thoughts, anxieties, fears, opinions in our own way and of our own volition. We will not accept that we are told time and again that "we ask for it" every time we choose to protest the violation of our bodies and our persona. We do not accept victim blaming and victim shaming when we are "punished" for "unladylike" behavior like socialising with men, being out late at night or drinking alcohol. And we can not accept when judicial officers abandon their role as Judges with constitutional obligation and responsibilities but instead express opinions that justify the worst of patriarchal norms and practices", the letter had stated.
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