On 3 March, over 4,000 women’s rights activists, progressive groups, and concerned Indians wrote an open letter to Chief Justice Bobde, demanding his resignation over the controversial remarks he made while hearing a desperate plea by a 14-year old victim seeking a pregnancy termination.
Aiming to clear the air around a recent controversy, India’s Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde on Monday said his statements that led to social media outrage in the country were misreported by the media.
“As an institution and as a bench in this court, we have always had the highest respect for womanhood. This court has always given the largest respect to women. We never asked the accused to marry the girl. We asked him ‘Are you going to marry her?’ There was a complete misreporting of what we said”, Chief Justice Bobde said during the rehearing of the case.
India’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was present in the courtroom on 1 March during the first hearing of the case, seconded CJI Bobde.
Mehta explained that under Section 165 of the Evidence Act, judges in India are empowered to ask questions to discover or to obtain proper proof of relevant facts in a case.
Last week, ripples were created on social media when the Supreme Court reportedly asked government employee Mohit Subhash Chavan, who is accused of rape, the probability of his marrying the victim, a schoolgirl. Chavan replied that he was already married to somebody else.
The incident has been evoking strong public reactions on Twitter for over six days now.
Netizens today reacted to CJI Bobde’s latest statement with a mixed response. While some blamed the media for being reckless, some questioned that if the CJI respects women, why did he put a four-week stay on Chavan? arrest?
Then why was he given protection?
— Om Tiwari (@The_Princeomi) March 8, 2021
So asking a Rape Victim to marry her Rapist and Tormentor is “largest respect to women”.
Is he for real??
— Shahab Jafri (@ShahabJafri55) March 8, 2021
How was it even a clarification. He did say it & in the very same context as perceived. His clarification doesn’t say anything different. What was the context in his head is beyond contemplation.
— Varun Singh (@VarunJPSingh) March 8, 2021
This case of reporting comments out of context to fit preconceived narrative is the biggest indictment on the state and standards of #journalism in #India. Media teachers and leaders need to introspect seriously and ensure basic principles of reporting. https://t.co/3Ow2zCexQc
— Shiv Kant Sharma (@shivkant) March 8, 2021