“Get Rakhi Tied by Woman You Molested.” Court Bail Order is a Punishment to Victim

Gender

“Get Rakhi Tied by Woman You Molested.” Court Bail Order is a Punishment to Victim

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

In an order that seems like it was delivered in the middle ages, the Madhya Pradesh High Court set a rather outrageous condition to grant bail to a man accused of sexual harassment. The Indore bench of the high court asked the man to get a rakhi tied by the woman, who complained against him, on Raksha Bandhan and promise to “protect her at all times”.

It doesn’t stop at that. The court also directed the accused, Vikram Bagri, to give ₹11,000 to the victim, as is the custom during Raksha Bandhan, and seek her blessings.

Bargi is instructed to give ₹5000 to the woman’s son for buying clothes and sweets.

The order was passed on July 30 by a single-judge bench of Justice Rohit Arya while granting conditional bail to the accused. “The applicant, along with his wife, shall visit the house of the complainant with Rakhi thread on August 3, 2020, at 11 am with a box of sweets and request the complainant to tie the Rakhi band to him with the promise to protect her to the best of his ability for all times to come,” the order said.

Bagri entered the house of his 30-year-old neighbour in Ujjain on April 20 and sexually harassed her, according to the complaint lodged against him. An FIR was registered with the local police station under section 354 (sexual harassment), 452 (house tress pass), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC, reports The Hindustan Times. He was charged under section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the IPC.

The order is not only archaic but also disrespectful to the woman. And definitely not something expected of our high courts. Rightfully, it has angered women who’ve called the order demeaning.

And though shocking, such judgements, which are nothing more than a punishment for survivors, are far too common. We’ve heard more than one such outrageous judgement where the court has suggested a woman to marry her rapist.

If even our law fails to protect women, what chance do we have for an equal nation?

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