NEW DELHI: In a shocking statement, Chief Justice of India S A Bobde on Monday asked a 23-year-old government servant whether he was ready to marry the woman who has accused him of rape.The observation came while the court was hearing a case against Mohit Subhash Chavan, a technician in the Maharashtra State Electric Production Company Ltd, who was accused of raping a minor girl in 2014-15.
He was allegedly 17-18-years-old then, and the girl was his distant relative and a student of Class 9 at the time.Last month, the Bombay High Court had cancelled the anticipatory bail granted to Chavan by a lower court, on an application filed by the girl. He had then challenged this order in the Supreme Court. During the hearing, CJI Bobde asked Chavan’s lawyer, “Will you marry her?”
“You should have thought before seducing and raping the young girl. You knew you are a government servant. We are not forcing you to marry. Let us know if you will, otherwise you will say we are forcing you to marry her,” the CJI said. The lawyer consulted Chavan and then told the court that he initially wanted to marry her but the girl refused. “Now I cannot as I am already married.”
The bench granted him interim protection from arrest for four weeks, allowing him time to file for regular bail.According to the FIR, the girl was in Class 9 when the accused started following her home from school and then one day he forcibly entered her house and raped her. In her complaint, the girl also alleged that he threatened to throw acid on her and kill her brother if she did not consent to a sexual relationship with him.
"Any violation of the directions will be viewed very seriously, and this court may be forced to initiate contempt proceedings," the court added.The judge observed that if an officer thinks he can use his power and connections to escape after committing any act, the court would not be a mute spectator but would step in and ensure the rule of law is preserved.
Stating that the incident left the court "deeply saddened", Justice Venkatesh added, "There is a faulty gene in men which sometimes makes them think a woman is subordinate and that at times she can even be treated like a chattel. History, time and again, shows that it is after a very long struggle, and only in the last 25 years have women somehow managed to get to top levels at workplaces, including public service. That, by itself, does not place them in a secure position as they are continued to be seen with patriarchal eyes."
The judge said that whosoever may be the person involved and whatever position he holds should never come in the way of the law taking its own course, more particularly when it comes to cases of sexual harassment. The judge directed the registry to place the order before the Chief Justice and obtain necessary orders and directions to list the matter.
Reneged on agreement to marry the victim
When her family found out about the relationship, the accused’s mother offered to get the two married once she turned 18. The families also signed an agreement. However, when the girl turned 18, the accused refused to marry her