The Madhya Pradesh High Court's order in a case of sexual assault -- asking the accused to get "rakhi" tied by the woman to get bail -- was scrapped by the Supreme Court today. The top court, which was hearing a petition from nine women lawyers, ordered that in such cases, stereotypes must be avoided. The court also issued directions for sensitisation of judges and lawyers, agreeing to the petitioners' view that it was "gross trivialization of the trauma suffered by the complainant."
The petitioners had challenged the condition of the bail, contending that such orders objectify woman.
"Bail conditions and orders should avoid reflecting stereotypical or patriarchal notions about women and their place in society... in other words, discussions about the dress, behaviour, or past "conduct" or "morals"of the prosecutrix should not enter the verdict granting bail," the top court said in its order.
The Supreme Court said bail conditions "should not mandate, require or permit contact" between the accused and the woman. Such conditions should seek to protect the woman from any further harassment by the accused.
The order also said the courts, while adjudicating gender-related crimes, should not suggest or entertain any notions (or encourage any steps) towards compromises between the woman and the accused.
The case was linked to the bail order for one Vikram Bagri, who was in jail in Ujjain on charges of sexually assaulting a neighbour. In April 2020, he had filed a bail petition in Indore.
On July 30, the Indore Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court granted him conditional bail. One of the conditions was that the accused would go to the house of the woman on Rakshabandhan and get a rakhi tied.
The man also had to pledge to protect the woman as a brother and give her Rs 11,000. He was also asked to pay Rs 5,000 to the woman's son for clothes and sweets.
The court had demanded that photographs of the event had to be submitted in the registry.
On October 16, the top court had put a freeze on the bail order and the release of the accused.
During the hearing, Attorney General KK Venugopal, who was assisting the court, questioned the condition imposed for grant of bail. The High Court judge, he said, had indulged in "plain drama" and gender sensitisation was required to arrest a trend of judges trivialising sexual offences and harming the dignity of victims.
In its order, the top court had issued multiple directions, including one on establishing training modules for sensitisation of judges and lawyers.