A group of more than 4,000 women's rights activists, groups and citizens have written an open letter to the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, demanding his resignation for the recent statements he made while hearing two different cases in the Supreme Court - asking a rapist to marry the minor victim and justifying marital rape.
The letter also demanded Bobde retract the words he said in the Court and tender an apology to all the Indian women.
Earlier, while hearing an anticipatory bail plea of a government employee accused of sexually assaulting a school-going girl repeatedly, Bobde had asked whether the accused was ready to marry the girl and said that he should have thought of the consequences before seducing and sexually assaulting her.
"If you want to marry, we can help you. If not, you lose your job and go to jail. You seduced the girl, raped her. We are not forcing you to marry. Let us know if you will. Otherwise, you will say we are forcing you to marry her," he had said and stayed the man's arrest for one month.
In another matter, the CJI had made a remark asking if sexual intercourse between the couple could be deemed as rape even if the husband is 'brutal'.
Bobde's statements in the two cases sparked widespread outrage.
In their open letter, the activists said that they were appalled by the fact that women had to take the burden of explaining the meaning of 'seduction', 'rape', and 'marriage' even to the Chief Justice of India, who holds power and duty to interpret the Constitution of India and sit in judgement.
The signatories also pointed out the Indian justice system, which has been weak when dealing with cases of rape and violence against women.
"Enough is enough," the letter read.
"Your words scandalise and lower the authority of the Court. From the towering heights of the post of CJI of the Supreme Court, it sends the message to other courts, judges, police and all other law enforcing agencies that justice is not a constitutional right of women in India. This will only lead to the further silencing of girls and women, a process that took decades to break. To the rapists, it sends the message that marriage is a licence to rape; and that by obtaining such a licence, the rapist can post facto decriminalise and legalise his act," The Wire quoted the letter.
The signatories also included well-known women's rights activists- Annie Raja, Mariam Dhawale, Kavita Krishnan, Kamla Bhasin, Meera Sanghamitra, Arundhati Dhuru, etc.).
From the womens' groups - All India Progressive Women's Association, All India Democratic Women's Association, National Federation of Indian Women, Saheli, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, Telangana Hijra Intersex Transgender Samiti, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Bebaak Collective, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan, Dalit Women's Fight, BASO, Women and Transgender Orgs Joint Action Committee, etc. came forward, along with citizens.