The Punjab and Haryana HC also said that the woman’s statement “does not throw up gut-wrenching violence that normally precede or accompany such incidents”.

HC resorts to victim blaming Calls OP Jindal gangrape survivor promiscuous accused gets bailRepresentational photo. Courtesy: incirlik.af.mil
news Law Saturday, September 23, 2017 - 15:10

The Punjab and Haryana High Court suspended the sentences and granted bail to three law students in the infamous OP Jindal gangrape case on Thursday. The HC delivered the ruling till the pendency of the appeal of the accused against conviction.

The arguments used by the court however, relied on regressive ideas and victim-shaming.

A significant part of the ruling was devoted to patronising the survivor. The court observed that woman’s statement lead them to draw the “alternate conclusion of misadventure stemming from a promiscuous attitude and a voyeuristic mind". At another instance, the court said her testimony showed “the immature but nefarious world of youngsters unable to comprehend the worth of a relationship based on respect and understanding”.

A division bench of Justices Mahesh Grover and Raj Shekhar Attri, sought to “balance the concerns of the victim, demands of society and law and the element of reformatory and rehabilitative justice,” reported Bar and Bench. The three accused  Hardik Sikri, Karan Chabra and Vikas Garg  were students of OP Jindal Law School and the victim was an MBA student.

The woman had lodged a complaint against the accused on April 11, 2015. In March this year, a lower court had sentenced Hardik and Karan to 20 years in prison and Vikas for seven years, for blackmailing and gang raping a student of the same university for two years from 2013 to 2015. The accused were also allegedly in possession of explicit photos of the woman.

Justices Grover and Attri said that the court was conscious of the survivor being blackmailed and threatened into submission lent “sufficient diabolism to the case”. The court then said that because she also sent Hardik her nude photos and also bought a sex toy at his behest, it revealed a “perverse streak” in both of them, reports TOI.

Bar and Bench quotes the testimony of the survivor however, where she clearly says that she was made to buy the sex toy for Hardik against her will. “I kept pleading that I do not want as it is a very shameful thing to have but he kept insisting as he wanted me to use it, so he could gratify himself via skype on the days when he could not force himself physically upon me. On 26.1.2015, I acceded to his demand of buying the sex toy under pressure of my photographs getting exposed in the entire university,” she said.

In what could arguably be seen as an attack on the woman’s character, the bench said that the woman’s statement “does not throw up gut-wrenching violence that normally precede or accompany such incidents”. It shows however, an “alternate story of casual relationship with her friends, acquaintances, adventurism and experimentation in sexual encounters and these factors would therefore, offer a compelling reasons to consider the prayer for suspension of sentence.”

The Punjab and Haryana HC also was also critical about the “degenerative mindset of the youth”. Referring to the events between 2013 and 2015, the court said that the “crass sequence” was a reflection of a “degenerative mindset of the youth breeding denigrating relationships mired in drugs, alcohol, casual sexual escapades and a promiscuous and voyeuristic world.”

The court ordered a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the woman, which will shared equally by all three accused. It also suggested counseling for Hardik, Karan and Vikas, and said, “It would be a travesty if these young minds are confined to jail for an inordinate long period which would deprive them of their education, opportunity to redeem themselves and be a part of the society as normal beings.”

Bail was granted to the accused on conditions that they should not leave the country, not make any contact with the woman, and undergo psychiatric counseling “until they are free of their voyeuristic tendencies”.

The court said finally that none of what is said above “should be construed to be an expression on the merits of the case.”

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