Patna: A Bihar court on Friday granted bail to the survivor of an alleged gang rape in Araria but denied the same to her two caregiver friends. The decision comes a day after nearly 400 lawyers from across the country had written to the Chief Justice of Patna High Court demanding systemic changes in the treatment of survivors of sexual crimes.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate at Araria district court, after a special hearing in connection with bail petition which was filed on Wednesday (July 15), granted bail to the survivor of the alleged gang rape. This is an exception, as all hearings in lower courts are suspended due to the COVID-related lockdown.
However, the two friends of the survivor, her primary support, were denied bail by the same court.
A Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate of the Araria court had ordered the arrest of the survivor and her two caregiver friends for allegedly “obstructing proceedings” while recording their statement under Section 164 of CrPC. They were sent to jail on July 10. This had led to a hue and cry across the country.
A hearing was scheduled in Patna High Court on Friday, but that did not take place.
“While the survivor was given bail, contrary to all expectations her friends and support persons Kalyani and Tanmay’s bail was rejected. This is not legally sustainable. It is unclear why Kalyani was not given bail since she has been booked for similar charges as the survivor,” said Kamayani Swami of Jan Jagarn Shakti Sangathan (JJSS) in Araria.
Swami also pointed out that the bail granted to the survivor on a personal bond could create a further problem for her due to separation from her primary support persons. It will also put her through new trauma caused by her guilt for being the cause of her support persons being in jail, probably one of the very few people she had trust in and who stood by her in her crisis,” she add.
Ashish Ranjan of JJSS said: “After Kalyani and Tanmay's bail was denied, we immediately sought to move a bail application before the CJM’s court, but we have been advised that no hearing is taking place in view of the circular of 15th July which has suspended functioning of the district courts because of Covid”
He said given the circumstances, JJSS would continue to explore all legal remedies available to them and move forward, as advised by their lawyers Anuj Prakash and senior council SC advocate Vrinda Grover.
“We would like to reiterate our faith in the judiciary and appeal for the immediate release of the friends and support persons of the survivor. Beyond the immediate release, we would like to pursue the issue on the need to sensitise the criminal justice system on the gender aspect of such cases of sexual violence, in a non-adversarial manner, such that no one again has to go through such an ordeal,” the JJSS
On Thursday, Patna High Court sought details of the incident from the Araria district and sessions judge.
A 22 year old woman, working as domestic help had filed a complaint on July 7 of being allegedly gang-raped on July 6. After the JJSS raised the issue and she lodged an FIR on July 9, in which she accused five people of sexually assaulting her, the police later arrested one of the named accused.
On July 10, when the survivor was called to record her statements before the magistrate, she allegedly refused to sign her statement and insisted on calling her two friends standing outside. Later, they allegedly misbehaved with the magistrate and reportedly had a heated exchange of words with court clerk recording the statement. Following this, the three were sent to jail for allegedly “obstructing proceedings.”