Is victim shaming by Indian High Courts the right way to justice?

In a remarkable judgment, the Punjab & Haryana High Court have granted bail to three accused in a gang rape case of their university junior because the Court found the girl to have a promiscuous attitude.

The story goes as follows. On May 24, 2017, Sunita Grover, Additional District, and Sessions Judge sentenced three former law students of OP Jindal Global University at Sonepat, Hardik Sikri and Karan Chhabra each with 20 years’ of imprisonment and Vikas Garg with seven years imprisonment and holding them guilty of blackmailing and gang raping of a student of the same university for about two years.

On April 11, 2015, the girl had filed a complaint with the university that the law students had been blackmailing and raping her since 2013. She maintained that the accused had objectionable photos of hers which were being used for blackmail and forced physical relations.

In her judgement, Sunita Grover wrote “The WhatsApp chats running into pages is so abusive and vulgar that the extracts of the same cannot be explained and put into the judgment and what only can be concluded through the WhatsApp chat is that the prosecutrix (victim) was totally under control and dominance of the accused, Hardik.”

But the High Court disagrees. It says and I quote that all that happened due to "misadventure stemming from a promiscuous attitude and a voyeuristic mind".  Many theories come forward in any rape trial. Especially if the background is an ultra expensive law school only few can afford. 

We hear about false victim testimonies and undue pressures but this case is unique in many ways primarily because of the judgment of the Court. Victim shaming, as the term goes, in such an early observation by the court, when the hearing has only begun ( bail applications are considered first) clearly shows the Honorable Court's bias. The girl was 18 years old when she apparently started dating Hardik and about 20 when the complaint was filed. Her friend had informed her mother over the phone when she saw gradual changes in her.

 By sending the three men to a psychiatrist so that they are free of their voyeuristic mindset shows a boy's only club attitude, that they are young and young men do have adventures. They have been sent to see a doctor for correcting their behavior aberration. INR10 lac each as compensation and off they go and enjoy life.

The High Court takes a contrarian view of the WhatsApp chat which the lower court found so vulgar and abusive. It maintains that the girl willingly sent her nude photos and used sex toys even though the lower court Judge pointed out that it was all done under the dominance of authority. Probably the Higher Court believed that seeing a doctor would make people send better WhatsApp messages. It is also imperative to note that this was a unique case also in a sense where the entire judgment of lower court was based on extensive digital data.

Again, the appeal that the accused have filed is pending before the court. And the courts have already made up their mind. I know that there is no justice in Indian society. I don't even know the complete story here. What I know is that you cannot just dismiss a girl's plea (take into account she was a junior student and the three her seniors,) just because she appears to be little adventurous and promiscuous. 

Because if a gang rape did happen, can we justify it by the survivor's casual behavior? Do we really expect such words or sensitivity from our justice system? Let's say the girl was lying through her teeth. But the honorable court hasn't pointed it out yet, in plain speak.

What's your take on this?

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