New Delhi: The Karnataka high court on Tuesday observed that it was “unbecoming of an Indian woman” to “fall asleep” after she is “ravished”, granting advance bail to a rape accused.
In the bail order, Justice Krishna S. Dixit expressed reservations about the genuineness of the complainant’s case while observing that her explanation that “after the perpetration of the act she was tired and fell asleep, is unbecoming of an Indian woman.”
The court also found it “difficult to believe at this stage” that the complainant was subjected to rape on the false promise of marriage “in the given circumstances of the case”. The complainant has been the accused’s employer for the past two years, it noted.
The judge made several observations about how the woman behaved before and after the alleged incident, pointing out that the complainant had agreed to spend time with the accused until morning.
“Nothing is mentioned by the complainant as to why she went to her office at 11 pm; she has also not objected to consuming drinks with the petitioner and allowing him to stay with her till morning; the explanation offered by the complainant that after the perpetration of the act she was tired and fell asleep, is unbecoming of an Indian woman,” Justice Dixit observed.
“This is not the way our women react when they are ravished,” the judge further observed while allowing the plea on June 22. How the apparently homogenous category of Indian (or “our”) women is supposed to behave after being raped was not clarified by the court.
Agreeing that the charges of rape, cheating and intimidation against the petitioner were serious in nature, the court observed that “seriousness alone is not the criteria to deny liberty to the citizen when there is no prima facie case from the police.”
The court took note of a letter allegedly written by the complainant that she would withdraw the complaint if a compromise was brought about.
“Nothing is stated by the complainant as to why she did not approach the court at the earliest point of time when the petitioner was allegedly forcing her for sexual favours,” the court observed.
Further, the judge also found no ground to deny the accused advance bail as the victim did not offer any explanation for not alerting the police or the public about the conduct of the petitioner when she had been to a hotel for dinner and the petitioner, having consumed drinks, came and sat in the car.
The court imposed a slew of conditions on the petitioner while granting him the relief including the execution of a personal bond of Rs one lakh and not tampering with evidence.
This isn’t the first time a court has appeared to expect some form of “usual” behaviour from a woman after she is raped. In October 2016, for instance, the Supreme Court acquitted the convicts and disbelieved the woman in a gang rape case for reasons including, “Her conduct during the alleged ordeal is also unlike a victim of forcible rape and betrays [a] somewhat submissive and consensual disposition. From the nature of the exchanges between her and the accused persons as narrated by her, the same are not at all consistent with those of an unwilling, terrified and anguished victim of forcible intercourse, if judged by the normal human conduct.”
At the time, several lawyers said that it was “misguided” of the court to bring up the woman’s actions and behaviour after the alleged incident. “The court clearly thinks there is a certain way you should look after a rape,” lawyer Flavia Agnes told The Wire then. “And this played an important role in their minds. I find that extremely problematic.”
(With PTI inputs)