Supreme Court: Caregivers of Araria gang rape victim granted immediate release

Supreme Court has ordered the immediate release of Tanmay Nivedita and Kalyani Badola who were sent to Dalsinghsarai jail, Samastipur in Bihar for their alleged misdemeanor while assisting and for supporting a gang rape survivor. The order was pronounced today. 

The Court has issued notice to Bihar Government in this cass. Advocate Vrinda Grover was assisted by advocates Ratna Appnender and Soutik Banerjee and Liz Mathew appeared for the petitioners. 

Earlier, the gangrape survivor from Araria in Bihar, who was arrested on the orders of a judicial magistrate while giving her statement about the incident, was granted bail on 17 July. However, the Araria Chief Judicial Magistrate Anand Kumar Singh refused bail to two social workers, who had helped the woman and were arrested with her on July 10.

The 22-year-old survivor was allegedly gang-raped on July 6 after which she sought help from members of Jan Jagran Shakti Sanghtan (JJSS), an Araria-based voluntary group with whom she was employed. An FIR was lodged at a women’s police station on July 9, accusing five men for sexually assaulting her. 

On July 10, when the survivor was recording her statement before the Judicial Magistrate at the Araria District Court, she had requested that Tanmay Nivedita and Kalyani Badola from the , who had accompanied the voluntary group to the court, be allowed to help her as she was unable to comprehend the proceedings. When Nivedita and Badola requested the judge to explain the statement again, the judge got annoyed and ordered the police to take all three into custody. On the judge’s orders, a case was lodged against the three women under IPC sections for obstructing a public servant from discharge of duty, which is punishable with a prison term of two years. The police later sent all three to Dalsinghsarai jail in Samastipur district, 250 kms from Araria.

A bail petition was filed for all three women on July 15. 

Responding to the widespread outrage, the Araria District and Session Judge asked the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) to look into the matter.

The court of CJM Anand Kumar Singh heard the case and granted bail to the gang rape survivor on a PR bond while, it rejected bail to two caregivers Kalyani Badola and Tanmay Nivedita. Advocate Debu Sen had appeared for them. 

Some 400 lawyers across the country had written a letter to the Chief Justice and other judges of the Patna High Court in response to the unjust judicial action calling for “urgent and systematic changes in the treatment of survivors of violent sexual crimes in the Araria district court.”

This is one of the rare instances in the country where a gangrape victim was sent to jail along with her two caregivers. 

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