A copy paste headline of a recent Gauhati High Court bail order has gone viral. The headline on most of the leading newspapers, portals and mainstream media in general reads as:
IIT Gauhati students gets bail because he is state asset
MDO has gone through the bail order in detail and here is exactly what the judge has quoted. However, first lets understand the brief facts of the matter.
Allegations by Prosecution:
As per the prosecution, on March 28, 2021 at around 9pm, the accused who is an IIT Gauhati student, allegedly lured the victim (female student) of the same educational institution to a school premises.
She was taken there by the accused student on the pretext of discussing her responsibility as the Joint Secretary of the Finance and Economic Club of the students of the said institution.
However, after making her unconscious, by forcibly administering alcohol, the accused committed raped on her, and the victim regained her consciousness only at around 5am the next morning.
The victim later underwent treatment and forensic examination etc. at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (G.M.C.H.), and thereafter, she was discharged from G.M.C.H. on March 29, 2021. She was later shifted to the Hospital at IIT, Gauhati where she underwent treatment till April 3, 2021.
Arguments by Defense
K.N. Choudhury, learned Sr. counsel appearing for the accused petitioner, contended that after completion of investigation, the police submitted Part Charge-sheet under Sections 376/328/307/120B of the IPC and Supplementary final charge-sheet against the accused, who is a young youth aged about 21 years and is a brilliant student of B. Tech Pre-final year of Indian Institute of Technology (‘I.I.T.’ for short), Guwahati in chemical engineering.
Choudhury further contended that the accused has been in judicial custody for about 120 days in connection with the case, which is entirely based on assumption of commission of the offence of rape without any credible evidence. The learned Senior counsel also contends that as the investigation has already been completed and as there is no chance of him jumping the course of justice in any manner, being a student of IIT Gauhati, further continuation of his detention for the purpose of trial of the case may not be warranted and that would amount to causing further damage to his brilliant academic pursuit.
Gauhati High Court
The Gauhati High Court has granted bail to this accused student citing the following reasons.
Having heard the counsels for both sides with reference to the relevant documents such as F.I.R., medical report, and statements under Sections 161 and 164 Cr.P.C., the contents of the charge-sheet, the Fact-Finding Committee Report etc., the Court noted that there is a clear prima facie case as alleged against the accused petitioner.
The bench of Justice Ajit Borthakur held that prima facie, an offence of rape had been made of against the accused student who has been charge-sheeted under:
- Section 376
- Section 328
- Section 307
- Section 120B
…of the IPC.
However, as the investigation in the case is completed and both the informant/victim girl and the accused are the state’s future assets being talented students pursuing technical courses at the I.I.T., Guwahati, who are young in the age group of 19 to 21 years only and further, they are being hailed from two different states, the continuation of detention of the accused in the interest of trial of the case, if charges are framed, may not be necessary.
Adding further and clarifying that there was no possibility of the accused tampering with the evidence of influencing them, the court said:
A perusal of the list of witnesses too, cited in the charge-sheet, this Court finds no possibility of the accused tampering with their evidence or influencing them directly or indirectly, if released on bail.
The accused was subsequently released on bail of Rs 30,000 (Rupees Thirty Thousand) with two sureties of the like amount to the satisfaction of the learned Sessions Judge, Kamrup at Amingaon, subject to the following conditions:
- That the accused/petitioner shall continue to appear before the learned trial Court, on all dates to be fixed from time to time, till the case is disposed of
- That the accused/petitioner shall not directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the Police Officer or the Court
- That the accused/petitioner shall not leave the territorial jurisdiction of the Court of learned Sessions Judge, Kamrup at Amingaon without prior written permission of the learned Sessions Judge, Kamrup at Amingaon
- The recent trend of feminist media picking up clickbait headline and pressuring judiciary by slamming judges has been on the rise
- Most of the social media warriors do not read the full order by the respective courts, and jump to conclusions, penning their normal victimisation propaganda through blogs and tweets
- In the case above, MDO too is not supporting the accused, however, since the matter is subjudice, it may be totally wrong to label him as rapist
- The judge has mentioned about a prima facie case of rape, however, whether the rape has been committed by the accused in question has not yet been proven
- The bail has been clearly granted since there is no further requirement of judicial custody, as investigation is complete
- The judge has indeed cited that age of the accused – which is between 19-21 – and possibly evaluated the benefit of doubt to be given to a young student especially that he has already spent 120 days (4 months) in jail
- If the trial court finds the man guilty, he must face the law; however, this negative trend of gender biased media already painting him rapist and challenging his bail by reading a mere headline must be called out