India’s chief justice provokes public outrage for sheltering rapists

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, Sharad Bobud, has recently encountered big troubles. Because of improper remarks in two suspected rape cases, more than 5,000 people have signed an open letter requesting him to resign immediately and apologize publicly.

According to a report by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on the 4th, when Bobud heard the appeal of a 23-year-old man accused of rape on the 1st, he even asked if he was willing to marry the victim, “If you want to marry her, we can help you. . Otherwise, you will lose your job and be thrown into jail.” According to the report, the defendant and the victim are distant relatives. He was accused of stalking and binding the then underage victim between 2014 and 2015. He repeatedly raped her and threatened to pour her with gasoline and set it on fire, threatening to pour sulfuric acid and kill her brother. The victim tried to commit suicide to expose the appalling case. However, the victim’s family stated that they had originally agreed not to call the police because the defendant’s mother promised them that once the girl became an adult, the two would be married. But then the defendant broke his promise and married someone else, and the victim reported the crime to the police.

The BBC reported that as a government employee in the Indian state of Maharashtra, the defendant argued that he would lose his job if arrested. Although the lower court approved his bail, the Mumbai High Court rejected it. The defendant man filed a complaint with the Supreme Court, so there was Bobud’s shocking remarks, and the former was also allowed to avoid arrest within four weeks.

Some well-known Indian feminists and NGOs have issued open letters in many ways, calling Bobud’s words “cruel” and demanding that he resign immediately and apologize publicly. “By suggesting that this (accused) rapist marry the victim, you, the Chief Justice of India, tried to convict her of being raped at the hands of the perpetrator for a lifetime.” According to the Hindu, nearly 50 groups co-signed The open letter accuses the Chief Justice of sending this message to other courts and all law enforcement agencies, “That justice is not the constitutional right of Indian women. This will only lead to further silence for girls and women. For rapists, the message it sends is Marriage is a license for rape. By obtaining such a license, the rapist can de facto decriminalize or legalize his behavior.”

In the trial of another rape case on the 1st, Bobud raised the second controversial issue. According to BBC reports, a man was accused of rape by a woman who had lived with him for two years. In the trial of the case, Bobud asked: “If a man and a woman live together as a couple, the husband may be a cruel man, but can you call sexual acts between legal couples rape?” Activists In the open letter, Bobud’s words were “very problematic” and “this comment not only legalized any form of sexual, physical, and mental violence by the husband, but also normalized the torture faced by Indian women in marriage.” The open letter also pointed out that Bobud’s words should not be taken lightly, because these words come from the Chief Justice of India and can be used as reference precedents in other cases.

Al Jazeera’s website stated on the 3rd that in 2019, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Bobud’s predecessor, had fallen into a “storm of public opinion” due to a sex scandal. Gogoi was later found not guilty, causing widespread protests. At that time, the internal investigation committee that helped Gogoi clear the charges was led by Bobud.