The Supreme Court has ordered the immediate release of social activists Tanmay Nivedita and Kalyani Badola who were jailed, along with a rape survivor, for allegedly disrupting court proceedings in Araria District Court in Bihar.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra directed “Until further orders, we direct the release of the petitioners on bail on furnishing personal bond for a sum of Rs.10,000/- (Rupees Ten Thousand) each, forthwith, to the satisfaction of the concerned Authorities”.
The bench also issued notice to the Bihar Government.
According to the plea, they were sent into custody while providing support to the survivor and explaining her traumatised situation to the judicial magistrate. “The gang rape survivor in her anguished state had expressed uncertainty and anxiety which was misunderstood by the learned magistrate and he expressed anger and took offence at the victim and the Petitioners/ support persons during proceedings under Section 164 Cr.P.C”, the petitioner stated.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, on behalf of the petitioners, pointed out that the FIR against the petitioners contains provisions of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, and sections of the IPC. Of these only Section 353, IPC is non-bailable.
Grover argued that the FIR was not maintainable in law as there is a statutory bar against police investigating criminal contempt of court. “The inclusion of provisions from The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, in the FIR reveal the non-application of mind and arbitrary exercise of authority which unfortunately is writ large over the entire proceedings against the Petitioners”, Grover argued.
The plea highlighted that in grave violation of Sec. 228A IPC, the rape survivor’s identity details, including her father’s name and full address were made known to and reported by the local press. This is a breach of her fundamental right to dignity and privacy. “The news reports state that the Court staff provided the identifying details of the rape survivor and other information to the media”, the plea stated.
Advocate Vrinda Grover was assisted by advocates Ratna Appnender and Soutik Banerjee. The plea was filed through Advocate-on-Record (AoR) Liz Mathew
On July 10, a court in Bihar had remanded Tanmay Nivedita and Kalyani Badola along with the rape survivor to police custody.
The CJM Araria on July 17, granted bail to the survivor but denied bail to the petitioners.
On July 10, the survivor accompanied by the Petitioners, Kalyani Badola and Tanvi Nair, was at the Court of Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Araria, for recording the survivor’s statement u/s 164 CrPC.
According to the plea, the Judicial Magistrate misconstrued her distraught, traumatised state of mind and perceived the same as a personal affront. He remanded her and the Petitioners.
Araria Mahila Thana P.S Case no. 61/2020 was registered against the survivor and the Petitioners. All three were then remanded into judicial custody and sent to Dalsinghsarai Jail, about 250Kms from Araria.