Supreme Court Takes Suo Moto Cognizance of Controversial Calcutta High Court Decision in Sexual Assault Case

The Supreme Court of India has initiated a suo moto hearing against a decision by the Calcutta High Court concerning a sexual assault case involving a minor girl in West Bengal. The bench, comprising Justices Abhay S. Oka and Ujjal Bhuiyan, has emphasized the need for unbiased ‘counseling’ for the victim, stating the government of West Bengal is fully prepared to assist and recommended the involvement of local counselors to address language barriers.

The Calcutta High Court’s contentious ruling had advised young girls to control their sexual desires, sparking significant backlash and prompting the West Bengal government to appeal to the Supreme Court. During the proceedings, Amicus Curiae Madhavi Diwan suggested that ‘clinical counseling’ should be provided to offer proper guidance to the girl, with a comprehensive report to be subsequently submitted to the court.

The bench clarified its directive for the girl’s counseling is only to ensure she has made her decisions thoughtfully and willingly, addressing concerns raised by the victim’s lawyer that she wishes to stay with the same individual and does not want to live alone.

This case gained attention last October when the Calcutta High Court during a hearing stated that “instead of seeking fleeting pleasure, young girls should control their sexual desires,” and that young boys should respect the dignity of young girls and women. The Supreme Court, in December, criticized such remarks by judges as inappropriate and potentially violating fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution, emphasizing that judges should refrain from expressing personal opinions or moralizing in their rulings.

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