Lord Krishna and Draupadi
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Courts cannot act as a mute spectator in crimes against women, should act like Lord Krishna and protect Dharma: Karnataka HC

The order was passed in an appellant's plea against his conviction for the rape of a 69-year-old woman.

Rintu Mariam Biju

While rejecting an appeal filed by a man who was convicted of raping a 69-year-old woman, the Karnataka High Court recently remarked that courts should act like Lord Krishna from the epic Mahabharata and protect women’s safety.

The order passed by a Division Bench of Justice B Veerappa and Justice ES Indiresh reads as follows,

"Though Indian Penal Code was enacted by Act 45 of 1860, and even after lapse of 74 years of independence, still women is not safe in the hands of violators of law. Now time warrants that the Court should act as guardians and protect Dharma in order to protect the safety of women, as contemplated under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and deal with the violators including rapists sternly and severely with iron hands and Courts should act as Lord Shri Krishna of Mahabharatha to protect Dharma."

Karnataka High Court

The Court also deemed it fit to quote a verse from the Bhagavad Gita which translated to:

“Whenever there is decay of righteousness O Bharata…For protection of the good, for the destruction of evil-doers…For the sake of firmly establishing righteousness, I am born from age to age.”

With this remark, the Bench went on to opine that courts cannot act as "mute spectators" in such cases.

"Therefore, the Court cannot act like a mute spectator to allow injustice being done to the women for generations to generations, in order to maintain the majesty of the Court."

The Court made these observations in its order in an appeal filed by one Nagesh, who had challenged a judgment passed in November 2014 convicting him of rape, criminal intimidation and robbery. In the 2014 judgment, he was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Sessions Judge.

The 69-year-old survivor had earlier alleged that Nagesh raped her at knife point in July 2013. Before the High Court, the accused rubbished the allegations made against him.

While considering the evidence on record and the confessional statement made by the accused, the Bench observed that the sexual attack on an aged woman by the accused is like a "cruel animal."

"How the accused who is similar to the age of grandsons of the victim thought of having sex with the victim without caring for her age of 69 years is un-understandable. Normally, in the Society, the elders, irrespective of gender will be given utmost respect. The accused who was taking help from the complainant calling her as ajji, ajji (grand mother, grand mother) crossed the limit and only to fulfill his lust, had sexual intercourse against her will, ignoring the sanctity of relationship of “grandmother and grand son”. The act of sexual attack on an aged woman by the accused is like a “cruel animal”..."

The Bench, in its detailed order, further opined that rape is not merely a physical assault, but is often destructive of the whole personality of the victim. While a murder destroys the physical body of the victim, a rapist degrades the very soul of the helpless female, said the Court.

The Court additionally held that rape is violative of the victim's fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution and in this view, courts should deal with such cases sternly and severely. The judgment states,

"Sexual violence, apart from being a dehumanizing act, is an unlawful intrusion on the right of privacy and sanctity of a woman. It is a serious blow to her supreme honour and offends her self-esteem and dignity as well. It degrades and humiliates the victim and leaves behind a traumatic experience. A rapist not only causes physical injuries, but, leaves behind a scar on the most cherished position of a woman, i.e., her dignity, honour, reputation and chastity. Rape is not only an offence against the person of a woman, rather a crime against the entire society. It is a crime against basic human rights and also violates the most cherished fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India."

The Court also opined,

"A woman’s body is not a man’s play thing and he cannot take advantage of it in order to satisfy his lust, and the Society will not tolerate such things anymore".

The Bench also took serious note of the medical evidence and witnesses’ accounts. It was also keen to observe that the jewellery belonging to the survivor that went missing was also recovered from Nagesh.

With these observations, the Court proceeded to dismiss the appeal plea and upheld the sentence including rigorous imprisonment for seven years imposed on the convict.

On a concluding note, the Court appreciated the courage, articulation, and sincerity shown by the Sessions Judge for the meticulous consideration of the averments made in the complaint.

[Read plea here]

Mute spectator - Karnataka HC.pdf
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