Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court on Friday expunged observations made by Justice Krishna Dixit, who while granting a bail order in a rape case had said that it was “unbecoming of a woman to fall asleep after rape”.
The observations were made on June 22 in the case Rakesh B vs State of Karnataka, which Justice Krishna Dixit was hearing. The case was of a 42-year-old HR manager who had fallen asleep after the incident of rape occurred. The woman had filed a complaint with the Rajarajeshwari Nagar Police and an FIR was registered under sections 376 (rape), 420 (cheating) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code as well as Section 66-B of Information Technology Act 2000.
In his observation, the judge had said, “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.” This statement was met with a lot of criticism with many activists calling it out for its misogyny.
Since then the state government had also appealed to the court to remove the controversial statement. The revised order now reads, “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 new order also states that the disposal of bail petition shall in no way influence the investigation of the offense alleged and the likely trial thereof.
Many woman advocates practicing at the Karnataka High Court also wrote an open letter registering "absolute shock" and "repulsion" at the remarks regarding the expected conduct of a rape survivor. The letter also points out how such an observation would set an unfortunate precedent which not only condones but actively encourages victim blaming.
They also pointed out how the statement went against the spirit of many Supreme Court judgments which have tried to ensure the dignity of survivors of sexual assault regardless of their age nationality, religion, caste or even virtue.