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Supreme Court seeks AG’s views on bail conditions for sexual offences as plea flags HC order

SC bench was hearing a petition against an order by Madhya Pradesh HC that asked an alleged molester to get a rakhi tied by the complainant as a bail condition.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday asked Attorney General K.K. Venugopal to recommend bail conditions that can be put in place for sexual offences, after the latter said judges needed to be given lectures on gender sensitisation.

A bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar was hearing a petition filed by women advocates against a Madhya Pradesh High Court order that granted bail in a molestation case on the condition that the accused gets a rakhi tied by the complainant.

The seven lawyers contended that the 30 July judgment coming a High Court would trivialise a heinous offence.

“There is a strong likelihood that such observations and directions may result in normalising what is essentially a crime,” the petition noted.

Venugopal, who was asked to assist the court in the matter, said judges need to be educated about why such orders should not become the norm.

“On the face of it, it seems that the Judge has been carried away. All of this is a drama. The question is how do we make this known to the judiciary,” he said in his brief submission during the hearing.

His suggestion to hold gender sensitisation programmes was accepted by the bench, which also agreed to deliberate on the limits of bail conditions.

“We may say what all is permissible. Once we decide that, it will mean that the rest is impermissible and judges may not venture beyond that. That is one way to go about it. We can also state in what circumstances the discretion can be exercised and how it is to be exercised. We can lay this down for all courts,” the bench observed.

Also read: Sexual intercourse is consensual only if it is ‘welcomed’ by a woman: Kerala High Court

‘This is all drama, from films’

On 30 July, the Madhya Pradesh HC had directed an alleged molester and his wife to visit the complainant’s house with a rakhi and box of sweets on 3 August. He was also directed by the court to promise to protect her to the best of his ability for all times to come.

“He shall also tender Rs. 11,000/- (Rs. Eleven Thousand Only) to the complainant as a customary ritual usually offered by the brothers to sisters on such occasions and shall also seek her blessings,” the HC had ordered.

Venugopal criticised the bail order and drew the bench’s attention to various top court rulings where judges confined themselves to conditions specified in Sections 437-438 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc) — laws related to grant of bail.

“This is all drama. This is something more from the films than anything else,” the attorney general submitted.

Venugopal stressed on the necessity to impart training to judges on gender sensitisation. According to him, the National Judicial Academy in Bhopal must create modules to hold workshops in batches to “educate the judges”.

The court assured Venugopal that its order will include a direction on holding training programmes for judges. The matter will next be heard on 27 November.

Also read: After 3-year row over sexual harassment charge, govt clears Karnataka judge elevation to HC


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