Mumbai: Women’s groups, progressive organisations and concerned citizens including activists and journalists have written an open letter to Chief Justice of India SA Bobde demanding that he step down over recent controversial remarks in a rape case.
During a hearing of an anticipatory bail plea of a public servant accused of raping a minor repeatedly, the CJI had asked whether the man was ready to marry the girl and said that he should have thought of consequences before seducing and raping a minor girl.
In another matter, he had made a remark asking if the husband is a brutal man, can sexual intercourse between the couple be deemed as rape.
The letter said they were “appalled” and “outraged” by his remarks made during the two hearings. Referring to the facts of the former case, the letter said, “By suggesting that this rapist marry the victim-survivor, you, the Chief Justice of India, sought to condemn the victim-surovivor to a lifetime of rape at the hands of the tormentor who drove her to attempt suicide.”
It said his proposal of marriage as an amicable solution is “worse than atrocious” and deeply erodes the right of victims to seek justice.
The letter further said it fills them with rage that they have to explain the meaning of ‘seduction’, ‘rape’ and ‘marriage’ even to the CJI.
Referring to his comments on marital rape, they said it legitimises sexual, physical and mental violence by the husband and mormalizes the torture that Indian women have been facing within marriages for years.
It also referred to his remarks on women farmers sitting in farmers' protest when he asked why they were being ‘kept’ there and not being ‘sent back home’ and said that the remarks implied that women lacked autonomy like men.
They said his words scandalise and lower the authority of the court, sends a wrong message to lower courts and law enforcement agencies and silences women. “To rapists, it sends the message that marriage is a licence to rape," it stated.
They demanded he retract his words and offer an apology to the women of the country and that proprietary demands he steps down from the position of CJI.