- GS-2: Fundamental Rights
- GS-2: Structure, organization and functioning of the Judiciary
Rape and Marriage
Context: Recently, Supreme Court bench headed by CJI asked a State government employee whether he would marry a girl he was accused of raping repeatedly while she was a minor.
The accused had also forced her mother to not lodge a police complaint on the promise that he would marry the victim when she turned 18.
The man refused by Supreme Courts proposal saying he was already married.
Implication of remarks(proposal) made by SC
- Impact on Society: Words uttered in the highest, most pre-eminent court of the land ripple out into the larger society. SC should have been more cautious before making such proposals.
- Criticised as Retrograde proposal: The SC’s remarks, unfortunately, risk perpetuating the offensive and retrograde idea of marriage as a payoff for the trauma and violation of rape.
- Dilution of Offence: Under the law of the land, rape is a “non-compoundable” crime. That is, the offence cannot be diluted or mitigated by any settlement reached outside court. Making such compromises is considered as dilution of offence.
- Against SC’s own precedence: In a 2015 judgment in State of MP vs Madanlal, the court had unambiguously stated, “In a case of rape or attempt of rape, the conception of compromise under no circumstances can really be thought of”. In an earlier judgment in Shimbhu v State of Haryana, the SC had said, “Rape is not a matter to be left for the parties to compromise and settle.”
- Perpetuating Patriarchy: Such type of compromises is making violation of women(rape) a matter to be settled between families so to preserve the reputation and honour of male assailants.
- Against Article 21: By offering marriage as a solution to a rape victim, the judiciary failed to protect the rights of a girl. Such obscene matchmaking and settlements devalues a woman’s worth and her dignity of life.
- Against Article 14: Such type of remarks is considered as assault on the autonomy of Indian women as equal citizens. Equal rights activists have always worked hard against misogyny, patriarchal mindsets and other failings such as blaming the victim for rape. This arduous battle for equality becomes even more difficult when people in high offices make offensive remarks
- Increases Vulnerability: Such type of compromises exposes the victim to more violence from her husband/assailant
- Existing Practice: It is pertinent to note here that marital rape is not a crime under the Indian Penal Code. Such compromises are routinely peddled by police, village councils and lower courts. But CJI’s remarks in open court could perpetuate this inglorious tradition and derail the progress made towards empowerment of women.
When the scars of the Nirbhaya case are still raw, and a series of rape and murders are being reported against minors, especially Dalits, the judiciary’s shocking remarks echo a deep-set prejudice against gender equality
Connecting the dots: