The Supreme Court on Monday asked a 23-year-old man, who has been accused of raping a minor girl, whether he will marry the victim.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian asked advocate Anand Dilip Langde, representing the petitioner, "Will you marry her?"
The question has left social media users incensed and many have called the suggestion that she get married to a man she has accused of rape 'problematic'.
Bollywood actress Taapsee Pannu took to Twitter to react to a report about the same and wrote: "Did someone ask the girl this question ? If she wants to marry her rapist !!!??? Is that a question !!!??? This is the solution or a punishment ? Plain simple DISGUST !"
Responding to Pannu's tweet, a user added, "Wow the judiciary and our entire system should work for empowerment of these girls rather than crushing their voices."
Another called it "outrageous, in all ways."
The girl was allegedly raped when she was 16 years old by the petitioner, who was her distant relative.
The girl alleged that initially the petitioner's mother had agreed for the marriage after she turns major and also executed a notarised undertaking for it. But the petitioner's mother later refused, she alleged.
She lodged an FIR against the petitioner in 2019 under Sections 376, 417, 506 of the IPC and under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
During the course of the arguments, advocate Anand Dilip Langde submitted before the bench that his client is a government servant, and he will face suspension due to his arrest in the matter.
The Chief Justice replied: "You should have thought before seducing and raping the young girl."
He added that being a government servant, the petitioner should have thought about the consequences. However, the Chief Justice stressed that the court is not forcing the petitioner to marry the girl. "We are not forcing you to marry, otherwise you will say we are forcing you to marry," the bench observed.
After a brief hearing in the matter, the bench declined to entertain the petitioner's plea seeking bail and gave him the liberty to seek regular bail. The top court also granted protection from arrest to the petitioner for four weeks.
(With inputs from IANS)