The Supreme Court on Monday said that it has ‘highest respect for women’ while clarifying its remark on made during a hearing of a rape case last week were ‘misreported’.
The bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde comprising of Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, said remarks have been taken ‘out of context’. The bench made comments during the hearing a case of a 14-year-old pregnant rape victim seeking a nod to abort the foetus of almost 26 weeks.
CJI Bobde said, “We did not ask him to marry. We asked ‘are you going to marry?’ We did not say ‘marry’,”
The remarks were made on March 1, while the court hearing a bail request of a technician with the Maharashtra State Electric Production Company, who is accused of raping a schoolgirl. The accused faced charges under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences(POCSO) law.
During the hearing CJI told petitioner’s lawyer, “If you want to marry, we can help you. If not, you lose your job and go to jail. You seduced the girl, raped her. We are not forcing you. Later you may say court forced you,”
The victim lodged an FIR against the accused after he backtracked on his promises to marry her. The Bombay High Court on February 5 allowed the victim’s application cancelling anticipatory bail granted to the petitioner. The petitioner moved to the top court challenging the order.
The remarks drew backlash from as it was constructed that the apex court was considering marriage as some panacea for rape.
The Chief Justice said that ‘there was complete misreporting’ on the matter. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, too, said the court had asked the question in a different context.
The CJI said, “We did not have any marital rape cases before us. I asked my brothers.They, too, do not remember. This institution, particularly this bench, we have the highest respect for womanhood.”
The clarification comes on International Women’s Day, and the remark by court were made during the hearing of a plea by a minor girl seeking permission to abort a 26-week pregnancy.