Clearing the air about oral observations made during the bail hearing in a rape case in the court last week, Chief Justice of India SA Bobde on Monday said his statement was “completely misreported.
“This court has always have given the largest respect to women. Even in that hearing, we never gave a suggestion that you should marry. We had asked, are you going to marry?”, the CJI said about last week’s proceedings where he had asked a 23-year-old rape accused if he would marry the victim.
The remarks were made when a bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde was hearing the bail plea of a technician with the Maharashtra State Electric Production Company, Mohit Subhash Chavan, who has been accused of raping a minor under the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act.
As per the court documents, when the victim approached the police, Chavan’s mother proposed marriage, but the victim had turned it down. Following this, a document was signed promising marriage once the girl turned 18. However, when she turned 18, the accused refused and rape complaint was then filed.
“Will you marry her? If you want to marry we can help you. If not, you lose your job and go to jail. You seduced the girl, raped her,” CJI Bobde asked the petitioner’s lawyer.
“Will take instructions,” the lawyer responded.
“You should have thought before seducing and raping the young girl. You knew you are a government servant,” said CJI Bobde.
Bobde continued, “We are not forcing you to marry. Let us know if you will. Otherwise you will say we are forcing you to marry her.”
The accused’s lawyer reiterated his answer and said he would reply after consulting with his client.“Initially I wanted to marry her. But she refused. Now I cannot as I am already married. I am a government servant and if I am arrested I will be suspended automatically,” the lawyer, representing Chavan, said.
CJI Bobde said, “That’s why we have given you this indulgence. We will stay the arrest for four weeks. Then you apply for regular bail.”
The Supreme Court granted the accused protection from arrest for four weeks and allowed him permission to apply for regular bail.
The trial court had granted the man protection from arrest but the High Court had cancelled it.