Just the time when the whole country is deeply concerned and disturbed about the rising sexual assaults against the women, a very eminent criminal lawyer of the country Ram Jethmalani chose to insult and humiliate the victim of the Asaram sexual assault case by describing her as a girl suffering from psychological disorder making her desire to meet men alone! Appearing for Asaram, as his defence counsel before the High Court of Rajasthan at Jodhpur, Ram Jethmalani argued that the case against Asaram is wholly fabricated and disputed the age of the girl.
The lawyer for the accused in the Gang-rape case of Delhi also went off his handle and made extremely anti-women remarks after his clients were sentenced to death. The lawyer said that he would even burn is sister alive if she went out with men in the night! It is of common knowledge that women are afraid to come forward to prosecute the rapist since the trials turn out to be another assault on their character and fair name. The manner in which the rape cases are conducted by the defence lawyers of the accused, the victims of rape cases are brutalized for the second time.
The submissions of Jethmalani in Asaram case at the stage of a bail hearing is of course both shocking and alarming. Coming from a lawyer of national repute, his allegations regarding the poor minor victim of Asaram that she was suffering from a psychological disorder that draws a woman to man (essentially accusing her of being a ‘nymphomaniac’) would hurt her character irreversibly.
The law regarding bail is well settled. At the stage of bail, the only consideration by the Court is whether the charges are serious or not, whether there is a prima facie case and whether the accused is in a position to tamper with the evidence. On all three counts, the session court has rejected Asaram’s bail application; How does the mental condition of the victim become the issue of debate to decide whether Asaram should granted bail or not? And which medical doctor or psychiatrists has given Jethmalani the certificate to brand the victim with such a mental disorder that would make her the aggressor? The Bar Council ought to take serious note of such wholly irrelevant and unethical utterances being passed off as legal submissions.
We may take notice of the fact that under the recently passed Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 that received Presidential assent on 2 April 2013, the definition of “sexual harassment” has been amended and the new Section 354A (iii) makes sexually coloured remarks punishable by imprisonment up to one year, or with fine, or with both. The submission made by Ram Jethmalani squarely falls within the definition of the amended section 354A(iii). No law gives absolute immunity to any lawyer to commit a criminal offense even during the course of conducting a court proceeding.