Chief Justice of India, Sharad A Bobde, on Monday, March 8, said that the comments he made during a hearing of a rape case last week were misreported to show that he disrespects women.
The top court had always accorded the "highest respect to womanhood" and the judiciary's reputation was in the hands of its lawyers, CJI Bobde said, reported NDTV.
"We did not ask the rape accused to marry. We asked 'are you going to marry?' We did not say 'marry'," the CJI said on Monday.
The SC, on March 1, was hearing the bail request of a man identified as Mohit Subhash Chavan, a technician with the Maharashtra State Electric Production Company, accused of raping a schoolgirl.
Chavan faced charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences law (POCSO).
"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. Later you may say court forced you " CJI told the petitioner's lawyer.
The comments received incessant criticism and backlash. A group of more than 4,000 women's rights activists, groups and citizens had written an open letter to CJI Bobde, demanding his resignation
The letter also demanded Bobde retract the words he said in the Court and tender an apology to all the Indian women.
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.
Justifying his comment, the Chief Justice on Monday said: "there was complete misreporting" on the matter.
"We did not have any marital rape cases before us. I asked my brothers. They, too, do not remember. This institution, particularly this bench, we have the highest respect for womanhood," he said.
The clarification by the CJI came on International Women's Day, during the hearing of a plea by a minor girl seeking permission to abort a 26-week pregnancy.