The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) on Wednesday, August 25 released a statement condemning the regressive decision by the Gauhati High Court to grant bail to an IIT student who has been accused of raping a fellow student. The Court granted him bail after observing that he was a “talented, young student and a future asset to the state” even though the high court had observed there is a clear prima facie case against the accused.
IIT-Guwahati had issued a statement saying: “An unfortunate incident involving a female student was brought to the notice of the institute on March 28, 2021. The institute acted promptly, and the student was rushed to the Institute hospital where she was examined and was advised to go to Guwahati Medical College (GMC) for necessary medical examination.”
After recording a substantiated finding that there was no possibility of the accused tampering with the evidence or influencing witnesses, the court released the accused on a bail of Rs. 30,000. The statement by AIDWA said, “Apart from the criminal behavior involved, the facts of the case highlight the extremely anti-women, patriarchal and regressive attitude of the accused who with sinister planning and preparation forcibly committed sexual violence on the girl with no regard to her personal autonomy and bodily integrity.”
AIDWA said that no bail should be granted just because a person belongs to a prestigious institution and is likely to be a future asset in his field. The lawyer for the victim had cited various judgments which highlighted that the heinousness should be a factor in granting bail. It added, “It is not clear from the order granting bail why the accused would not be able to influence witnesses or tamper with evidence. The bail order fails to consider the emotional and physical impact on the victim of the continuous presence of the accused on campus and the fact that the accused could pressurise the victim.”
The women’s organisation pointed out that it is unnerving that while in cases of activists and journalists accused of dissent are kept in jail without bail for years, a person who has committed a heinous crime is let out so easily in a case where the minimum punishment is 10 years imprisonment. The order granting bail further adds to the impunity witnessed in cases of rape.
“AIDWA believes that courts must carefully consider the heinousness of the crime and what it reflects of the perverse attitude of the accused before granting bail in matters pertaining to sexual assault and violence,” the statement said. It was signed by Malini Bhattacharya, President of AIDWA, Mariam Dhawale, General Secretary of AIDWA, and Advocate Kirti Singh, their legal advisor.