Should Judges Preach Puranic Verses or Dispense Justice As Per Current Laws?

December 10, 2022

The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
- Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809- `1892), English Poet Laureate during much of Queen Victoria’s reign.

Some modern judges hark back to ancient Puranas despite having studied in modern law colleges. But, first the facts as reported recently (8/12/22) in the media.

'Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnu': Gujarat HC denies bail to molester teacher

The Gujarat High Court refused bail to a school teacher accused of molesting a 12-year-old student and observed, "Such a heinous crime, which affects the entire society and the relation between guru and disciples, should be viewed very strictly".

Nihar Barad, a primary school teacher from Gir Somnath district was booked under the IPC and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (Pocso) in July 2022 for allegedly molesting the 12-year-old. He sought regular bail from the high court after police filed a charge-sheet. While he claimed innocence, the state government opposed the bail plea. Meanwhile, the complainant's lawyer told the court that he had no problem if the teacher was granted bail.

Justice Samir Dave was upset when he heard about the compromise between the teacher and the girl's parents. The court cited a Sanskrit shloka celebrating the stature of the teacher - 'Gurur Brahma, Gurur Vishnu, Gurur Devo Maheshwaraha...', and expressed surprise at the compromise that was arrived at.

The court further said, "The accused is not a layman, but a teacher. The only career that influences other professions is teaching. It has the power to influence young people for the benefit of future generations. The teacher is expected to act as a protector."

Opining that the alleged act by the teacher would leave a permanent scar on the child's mind, the court said, "The accused, instead of showing fatherly love and affection and protecting the child against the evils of the society, made her the victim of his lust. It is a case where trust has been betrayed and social values are impaired. Therefore, the accused as such does not deserve any sympathy or leniency."

The high court also rued the helpless situation of the girl child in India, saying, "Children are precious human resources of our country; they are the country's future. The hope of tomorrow rests on them. But unfortunately, in our country, a girl child is in a very vulnerable position. There are different modes of her exploitation, including sexual assault and/or sexual abuse. The exploitation of children in such a manner is a crime against humanity and society. Therefore, the children and more particularly the girl child deserve full protection and need greater care whether in the urban or rural areas."

The court further said that children who are victims of sexual assault find it difficult to cope with their situation. "Most crimes against minor victims are not even reported because, very often, the perpetrator of the crime is a member of the family of the victim or a close friend. Therefore, the child needs extra protection," the HC order reads.

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