The anticipatory bail order to writer and social critic Civic Chandran by the Kozhikode district sessions court has stoked a row with its observations on the sartorial choice of the victim and her caste. A sexual assault case was filed against Chandran by a Dalit writer.
The Kozhikode district sessions court, while granting the bail, said that “it is highly unbelievable that he will touch the body of the victim fully knowing that she is member of Scheduled Caste” and that the complainant’s dresses were “sexually provocative”.
Therefore, the offences under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act would not prima facie stand against the accused because to establish the same he should have the knowledge of her caste, the court observed, as reported by the Indian Express.
“In order to attract the offence under the Act, it has to be established that the accused was with the knowledge that the victim belonged to a member of SC/ST,” Judge K Krishna Kumar said.
There were two sexual harassment cases against Chandran in 2022. He has been granted anticipatory bail in both. In the first case, a complainant on July 17 alleged that Chandran had tried to kiss her on her neck and outraged her modesty on April 17. Chandran was anticipatory bail in this case on August 2 by the same court.
In the second case on August 12, the Kozhikode district session’s court had observed, “The photographs produced along with the bail application by the accused would reveal that the defacto complainant herself is exposing to dresses which are having some sexual provocative one. So Section 354A will not prima facie stand against the accused.”
Besides, the court said that the allegation against the 74-year-old physically disabled accused was “an attempt to tarnish the status in society”. It also added that it was in disbelief over the accusation that he forcefully put the defacto complainant in his lap and groped her.
“He is fighting against the caste system and is involved in several agitations. It is not at all stated in the first information statement that the act of the accused was with the knowledge that the victim belonged to a member of SC. The copy of the SSLC book of the accused shows that he had refused to mention caste name in it. The accused is a reformist and is engaged in fighting against the caste system, writing for a casteless society,” the court said.
Further, the court questioned the complainant’s delay in filing an FIR and said, “”The defacto complainant is an educated lady who is fully aware of the consequences of sexual assault. Why she was reluctant to file the complaint has to be explained by her. But absolutely no explanation is forthcoming.”
In order to attract Section 354A, the court said, there must be a physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures. “There must be a demand or request for sexual favours. There must be a sexually coloured remarks. The photographs produced along with the bail application by the accused would reveal that the defacto complainant herself is exposing to dresses which are having some sexual provocative one. So Section 354A will not prima facie stand against the accused. So Section 354A will not prima facie stand against the accused,” it said.