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Karnataka HC's 'Unwarranted Remarks' in Rape Case Should Be Expunged: Students, Lawyers

In an open letter, nearly 200 signatories say Justice Krishna S. Dixit's comments set an "unfortunate precedent which not only condones but actively encourages victim blaming".

New Delhi: Nearly 200 advocates, law students and concerned citizens have written an open letter seeking the “uncharitable and unwarranted remarks” made by a Karnataka high court judge while granting bail to a rape accused to be expunged. The remarks set an “unfortunate precedent which not only condones but actively encourages victim blaming”, the open letter says.

On June 23, Justice Krishna S. Dixit said that the complainant in a rape case did not react like she was ‘ravished’. He observed that her explanation that “after the perpetration of the act she was tired and fell asleep, is unbecoming of an Indian woman”, granting bail to the accused.

In the open letter, the signatories have expressed “absolute shock and repulsion” at the judge’s remarks.

Also Read: Karnataka HC Judge’s Use of Stereotypes to Justify Bail to Rape Accused Requires Correction

“It is appalling that a venerable judge would seek to foist his personal, prejudicial views in such an uncharitable manner without a thought for the consequences on the society at large, let alone the survivor of sexual assault,” the letter says.

The signatories noted that the remarks were made at a pre-trial stage, which could have the effect of “prejudicing the entire trial”. “In the absence of a charge-sheet and a trial, the fact finding of the case should be left to the appropriate forum and care must be taken not to prejudice the same,” they said.

The full statement, with the complete list of signatories, has been reproduced below.

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This letter intends to register the absolute shock and repulsion at the remarks by a High Court Judge of the hallowed Karnataka High Court regarding the expected conduct of the rape survivor. It is appalling that a venerable judge would seek to foist his personal, prejudicial views in such an uncharitable manner without a thought for the consequences on the society at large, let alone the survivor of sexual assault.

At the very outset, it is observed that the remarks were made while granting anticipatory bail to the accused. It is highly unfortunate that such remarks have been made at a pre-trial stage as it has an effect of prejudicing the entire trial. In the absence of a charge-sheet and a trial, the fact finding of the case should be left to the appropriate forum and care must be taken not to prejudice the same.

It also creates a very unfortunate precedent which not only condones but actively encourages victim blaming. The remarks further categorise the expected behavior of Indian women survivors vis-à-vis survivors of other nationalities. Comments such as the behavior of the victim was “unbecoming of an Indian woman” is insulting to women everywhere. The statement showcases a parochial mindset which is unbecoming of the otherwise equitable and stoic judiciary.

Such remarks by the Karnataka High Court will have resounding consequences on the lower judiciary as well. The training imparted to the lower judiciary to be more sensitive towards survivors of sexual assault is undone by such remarks. It is a major setback to stop the mentality of victim blaming while being extremely regressive as it encourages perpetrators to get away with heinous crimes by simply putting the blame on the behaviour of survivors.

We remember the words of the Supreme Court in its order dated 11.08.2018 in Nipun Saxena vs Union Of India which while noting that “Unfortunately, in our society, the victim of a sexual offence, especially a victim of rape, is treated worse than the perpetrator of the crime.” found that “the victim’s first brush with justice is an unpleasant one where she is made to feel that she is at fault; she is the cause of 1 the crime.

It may be recalled that after the infamous judgment in Tukaram v. State of Maharashtra, (1979) 2 SCC 143, against which an Open Letter was written by Prof. Upendra Baxi, Prof. Vasudha Dhagamwar, Prof. Raghunath Kelkar and Prof. Lotika Sarkar and a movement started across the country which resulted in amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code in 1983. The movement and protests across the country after the gruesome Delhi gang rape which saw further amendments to the law again reinforced the need to deal with cases of sensitivity without going into the conduct and character of survivors.

The remarks go against the spirit of several supreme court judgments which have long sought to ensure the dignity of survivors of sexual assault regardless of their age, nationality, religion, caste, or even virtue. It is in this context that one hopes that better sense prevails, and the uncharitable and unwarranted remarks made at paragraph 3(c) of the Criminal Petition No. 2427 of 2020 dated June 22, 2020 are regretted and expunged.

Endorsed by:

1. Aadrita Roy
2. Abhijeet Swaroop
3. Adit Shah
4. Afrin K. Ashik
5. Aifoona Punnaram
6. Aishwarya Ajayan
7. Aishwarya Jain
8. Aishwarya Ravi
9. A.J. Srinivasan
10. Akbar Zaheer
11. Akkamahadevi Hiremath
12. Akshita Raina
13. Amrita Barthakur
14. Aman Saxena
15. Anandi Kamani
16. Andre Peter
17. Anisha Gupta
18. Anjali Nishtala
19. Anjali Ramamurthi
20. Annju Joy
21. Anu Chengappa
22. Annette Mathew
23. Anu Swaraj
24. Anushka Tiwari
25. Apurva Bharadwaj
26. Arathi Shivkumar
27. Arpitha Ananthram
28. Arunkumar
29. Aseem Chaturvedi
30. Ashok Dey
31. Astha Shukla
32. Atishya Kumar
33. Avani Chokshi
34. Bapu Vishnu
35. Basawa Prasad Kunale
36. Benjamin E. Moses
37. Bharadwajaramasubramaniam R
38. Bina Sarkar
39. Bindu
40. C.P. Suchitra
41. Chanvi Madappa
42. Chetan Mali
43. Clifton D’ Rozario
44. Dayan Warsi
45. Deeptha Rao
46. Devanjali Banerjee
47. Devashree Pillai
48. Devyani Kulkarni
49. Dileep Krishnan N
50. Dhriti Vishwanath
51. Diwaagar R.S.
52. Faiza Khanum
53. Falguni Madan
54. Harsh Parekh
55. Hazel Lobo
56. Heba Sarah Abraham
57. Hrishika Jain
58. Ipshita Bhuwania
59. Jayalakshmi Shenoy
60. Jayna Kothari
61. Jyoti Saikia
62. J.M. Aiyanna
63. Kavitha H.C.
64. Kavya Varma
65. K.B.K. Swamy
66. Kirthi Jayakumar
67. Krishna Narayanan
68. Kruthika N.S
69. Kushal Rohira
70. Kushi Yadav
71. Lalithashree Prakash
72. Lakshmi Prasanna
73. Law and Society Committee NLSIU
74. Lekha K.G
75. Maitreyi Krishnan
76. Malavika Prasad
77. Manavi Atri
78. Manisha Vidyadhar
79. Manjunatha Hiral
80. Mannat Waraich
81. Mansi Binjraka
82. Maria Leslie Fernandez
83. Maya George
84. Meghana Shetty
85. Mehula Liza Pallathu
86. Mekha Vijayakumar
87. Mohammed Afeef
88. Mrinali Komandur
89. Muralidhara C.
90. Nagasimha PG
91. Nalina Mayegowda
92. Naveena Varghese
93. Nayana K.N.
94. Nehzan Azeez Ekkery
95. Nidhi Khanna
96. Nimisha Kumar
97. Nina Nayar
98. Nitya Kalyani
99. Niyathi.M
100. NLS Feminist Alliance
101. Numaan Raza
102. Pablo Chaterji
103. Pavithra Manivannan
104. Piyush Tiwari
105. Pooja Upadhya
106. Poorna Ravishankar
107. Pradeep Nayak
108. Pragnya Vasishtha
109. Prajwal K Aradhya
110. Prajwal N
111. Prakash H C
112. Prasad
113. Prasad D.V
114. Prasanna R
115. Prashaanth .B
116. Prashanth Kumar.D
117. Pratik Bhattacharjee
118. Prerana Shenoy
119. Priyanka Sarma
120. Priyal Sanghvi
121. Rabia Mohamed
122. Raaga Ramalakshmi
123. Raghavi
124. Raghunath Ananthpur
125. Raghupathi S
126. Raghuram Pillai
127. Raja Sujith
128. Richu Theresa Robert
129. Rithika Raavikumar
130. Ritika Shah
131. Rose Joy
132. Roshini Jacob
133. Rupa Gulab
134. Ruth Thomas
135. Sabina Basha
136. Sagorika Chaudhary
137. Sahana Chandrika
138. Santosh Kumar Ghordi
139. Sarada Mahesh
140. Sariputta Pramod Sarnath
141. Shahrukh Mubashir
142. Shashwat Bhaskar
143. Shilpa Prasad
144. Saudamini Pethe
145. Shamini Mashruwala
146. Shanya Ruhela
147. Shreya Pola
148. Srishti Agrwal
149. Shruti Ramesh
150. Shubhra Baghel
151. Shodhan Babu
152. Shweta Velayudhan
153. Siddhi Gupta
154. Siddharth Rao
155. Smitha Adhyam
156. Sonu
157. Sowrabh S Rao
158. Sudeep Reguna
159. Sudha Rammohan
160. Sugata Srinivasaraju
161. Sujatha Naik
162. Suman Katarki
163. Suki Iyer
164. Surabhi Bhat
165. Sunil H.C.
166. Surendranath GPP
167. Tanishq Toor
168. Tarutr Malhotra
169. Team Volunteers Collective, Tanvi Sharma
170. Theekshna Amin
171. Theyjusvini S
172. Trisha Chandran
173. Vageesh Lakshminarayan
174. Vani Kaushik
175. Vanita Bhargava
176. Ved Bansod
177. Vijay Sambamurthi
178. Vikas Mahendra
179. Vinay Sreenivasa
180. Vinoda Gowda
181. Vishwajith Sadananda
182. Wafa Khatheeja
183. Wamika Trehan
184. Winy Daigavane
185. Yogeshwaran A.