By A Special Correspondent
First publised on 2020-07-16 14:34:04
The disturbing incident of a gang-rape survivor being sent to jail by a miffed judge in Bihar, who was not concerned with understanding the reason behind her breakdown in court and subsequent inappropriate actions but chose to stick to rules and protocol in booking her for her misdemeanor by ordering judicial custody of 14 days, has created a huge controversy. The FIR against the victim and members of an NGO that was helping her charges all of them with threatening behavior, use of foul language, obstructing judicial proceedings and snatching documents from the judge's hand.
If true, none of the above actions can be condoned. A judge has to be respected at all times and the rules and protocols of the court have to be followed by all who are present there, including the victim. Otherwise, the sanctity and authority of law will be debased and there will be a free for all. But the judge could have been lenient in the case of the rape victim by understanding her trauma and the reasons for her breakdown.
It is being reported that against all accepted norms, the victim was asked to wait in a dingy corridor of the court premises in close proximity with an alleged accomplice of the rapists. Imagine the mental abuse she might have been subjected to by the man. Then, as she was waiting for the judge to arrive, the court clerk is alleged to have started questioning her. If she had a nervous breakdown in court after three hours of waiting, the judge could have let her off with a warning for her indecent behavior or at best sentenced her for a day to set an example. He could have sent the NGO members to jail for misleading and instigating her if he thought fit. But it was insensitive on his part to hand out such a harsh punishment to the woman that would worsen the trauma she has suffered due to the gang-rape.
Lawyers all across the country have already written to the chief justice and other judges of the Patna High Court seeking their intervention in the matter. A judicial inquiry must be conducted in the incident and systemic changes, including guidelines for dealing with such cases in lower courts, must be prescribed by the High Courts or the Supreme Court.