In a shocking display of it's regressive approach towards justice to sexual asault victims, the Supreme Court on Monday asked a 23-year-old man, who has been accused of raping a minor girl, whether he will marry the victim.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian asked advocate Anand Dilip Langde, representing the petitioner, "Will you marry her?"
To this, Langde replied that he would need to take instructions from his client and asked for a pass over, but the court was not inclined to it. During the course of the arguments, Langde submitted before the bench that his client is a government servant, and he will face suspension due to his arrest in the matter.
The Chief Justice replied: "You should have thought before seducing and raping the young girl."
He added that being a government servant, the petitioner should have thought about the consequences. However, the Chief Justice stressed that the court is not forcing the petitioner to marry the girl. "We are not forcing you to marry, otherwise you will say we are forcing you to marry," the bench observed.
After a brief hearing in the matter, the bench declined to entertain the petitioner's plea seeking bail and gave him the liberty to seek regular bail. The top court also granted protection from arrest to the petitioner for four weeks.
The girl had alleged that when she was 16 years old, the petitioner, who was her distant relative, had raped her. The girl alleged that initially the petitioner's mother had agreed for the marriage after she turns major and also executed a notarised undertaking for it. But the petitioner's mother later refused, she alleged.
The girl lodged an FIR against the petitioner in 2019 under Sections 376, 417, 506 of the IPC and under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
On February 5, the Bombay High Court had allowed the girl's application, cancelling the anticipatory bail granted to the petitioner. Challenging this order, the petitioner had moved the top court.
"The petitioner's advocate informed the top court that his client was already married. It is further alleged that after the execution of the notarised undertaking on June 2, 2018, when the informant turned 18, her mother requested the mother of the petitioner to perform the said promised marriage, but she refused the same and therefore the informant lodged the present complaint against the petitioner," said the petitioner's plea.