AIDWA is deeply disturbed about the remark of the Chief Justice of India in the case of Mohit Subhash Chavan v. State of Maharashtra, asking the Petitioner “Whether he is ready to marry the girl who he has raped and seduced”. In many cases across the country, AIDWA has seen that judges instead of proceeding with the rape case according to law, ask the rapist to marry the victim. In this particular case, the girl is alleged to have been raped 10-12 times while she was minor. The rapist is also alleged to have threatened and intimidated the girl not to report his acts. Reports have also stated that he had tied down and gagged the girl on occasions and even threatened to inflict burns on her by throwing acid. The girl apparently tried to commit suicide after these actions of the rapist. It has also been reported and the Bombay High Court (Aurangabad Bench) has noted that the Petitioner and his family is so influential that they made the girl and her mother to execute a writing on a stamp paper of Rs. 500/- that the Petitioner and the victim had an affair and they both had indulged in sex with her consent.
The Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court had rightly termed the actions of the rapist as ‘atrocious’ and dismissed his application for bail. We strongly feel that the Supreme Court should not have given time to the alleged rapist for filing a regular bail application. It has also been reported in the media that the girl’s parents had not taken any action as the man had promised to marry the girl. We feel that it is totally wrong to suggest marriage as a solution in cases of rape. Rape can never be excused or legitimized by an offer of marriage as an offer of marriage only minimizes the violence and trauma faced by the girl/woman during the rape. In our society there are people who think that rape brings shame and ignominy to a girl and feel that her honor can be saved if she is married to the rapist. Such thinking is extremely regressive, and it does not take into account the situation of the woman/girl who has undergone this violent act. To marry her in these cases would be to inflict further violence on her and to further violate her.
It has also been reported in another case that the CJI has asked a question whether a rape can ever occur within a marriage. AIDWA finds this remark also deeply disturbing as for years AIDWA and other women’s groups have been asking for marital rape to be recognized as an offence under 376 IPC and for the exception of marital rape to be removed from IPC. Sexual and other violence within marriage is unacceptable in any society and our law partially has recognized this by introduction of Section 498A in the IPC as far back as 1983 and in the Domestic Violence Act. AIDWA feels that conservative and patriarchal notions that exist in the sections of Indian criminal justice system ought to be weeded out and for that gender sensitization is a must.