“Highest Respect For Womanhood”: CJI Bobde Says His Remarks During Rape Hearing Misreported

“We did not ask him (rape accused) to marry. We asked ‘are you going to marry?’ We did not say ‘marry’,” Chief Justice Bobde said today.

The comments he made during a hearing of a rape case last week were completely misreported to imply disrespect for women, Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said today. He said the Supreme Court had always accorded the “highest respect to womanhood” and the judiciary’s reputation was in the hands of its lawyers, the “Bar”.

“We did not ask him (rape accused) to marry. We asked ‘are you going to marry?’ We did not say ‘marry’,” Chief Justice Bobde said today.

The comments were made while the apex court was hearing a bail plea by Mohit Subhash Chavan, a technician with the Maharashtra State Electric Production Company. The man has been accused of raping a schoolgirl and faces charges under the severe POSCO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) law.

Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, when the petitioner’s lawyer told him his client could lose his job, said: “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.”

The man’s mother had offered marriage when the girl went to the police. However, she had reportedly refused. Then a document was executed to say that there would be a marriage once the girl turned 18. However, when the girl turned 18 the man refused to marry her. That is when a rape complaint was filed against him, according to documents.

In a question that has been discussed widely on social media, the Chief Justice asked the accused man: “Will you marry her?”

The accused’s lawyer replied saying, “Will take instructions”.

The Chief Justice said: “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,” CJI Bobde added.

The accused’s lawyer repeated his answer and said he would reply after consulting with his client.

“Initially I wanted to marry her. But she refused. Now I cannot as I am already married,” he said later.

The trial was on and charges were yet to be framed, the man said, adding, “I am a government servant and if I am arrested I will be suspended automatically.”

“That’s why we have given you this indulgence. We will stay the arrest for four weeks. Then you apply for regular bail,” said Chief Justice Bobde.

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