Patna: A gang-rape victim from Bihar who was sent to jail by a local court for “misbehaviour” was granted bail on Friday after top lawyers and activists expressed concern over her imprisonment and urged the Patna high court to intervene.
The Araria district court granted bail to the 22-year-old victim after a special hearing. However, the court denied bail to two of her social worker friends.
“She was granted bail by the court but her caregiver friends have been denied the same,” Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan secretary Ashish Ranjan Jha told the Gulf News on Friday. Both women belonged to a non-governmental organisation working for the poor.
The bail was granted shortly after lawyers and social activists from across the country had condemned the arrest of the gang-rape victim and urged the Patna High Court chief justice to urgently intervene into the matter.
The victim along with her two social workers were arrested on the order of the Araria district court in Bihar last week for “misbehaviour and disrupting” court proceedings.
In a letter to the chief justice of Patna High Court, as many as 376 advocates from across the country had expressed concern and dismay over the manner the rape victim and two social workers assisting her at a court in Araria district were remanded to judicial custody and sent to jail in Samastipur, some 250 km away. The signatory of the letter who included legal luminaries such as Prashant Bhushan, Indira Jaisingh and Vrinda Grover expressed unhappiness over the way the judicial magistrate took her nervous breakdown as a personal affront.
According to the report, the victim had accompanied an acquaintance to learn how to drive a motorcycle on July 6 when she was caught by four youths who took turns to rape her. The next day she registered a case with the local police station.
On July 10, the victim accompanied by two women of Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan appeared before the judicial magistrate to record her statement in the court. However, social workers were not allowed to be with her in the magistrate chamber.
Reports said when she gave her statement to the court, she was asked to sign a transcript of the statement but she refused insisting that the women accompanying her be allowed to read her statement first. Soon the women rushed in and demanded that they be shown a copy of the statement which was turned down citing “legal restrictions”, leading to altercation in the court.
Subsequently, the judicial magistrate ordered for registration of a case against the trio after which they were arrested and sent to jail. “We are amazed at the court action. Instead of looking into the mental condition of the victim and their caregivers, they were sent to jail,” asked Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan secretary Ashish Ranjan Jha.
“Should the complainant be sent to jail since she doesn’t know how to speak properly?” Jha asked. He also described as a huge “injustice” the arrest of the women activists. “This is great injustice. Instead of giving medals to the women activists who were helping the victims, they too were jailed,” he said.
According to him, the court mistook the rape victim’s “nervous breakdown” for being made to narrate her ordeal over and over again as a “contempt of court”.