Supreme Court halts “Disturbing” use of Astrology in Rape Victim Assessment on June 3rd

On June 3rd, in a special sitting, the Supreme Court stayed an order by the Allahabad High Court through which it sought the assistance of astrology to ascertain if the rape victim was ‘manglik’, as the accused used the same reason to deny marrying her after sexual relations.

Background

According to Hindu astrology, a person born under the influence of the planet mars, is believed to have a “mangala dosha” and is called a “manglik”. The manglik dosha is said to have a negative influence on married life and is said to lead to conflicts in marriage.   

In a special session, the vacation bench of the Supreme Court, consisting of Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Justice Pankaj Mithal, issued a ruling stating that the High Court’s order was out of context. The bench took suo moto cognizance of the High Court order.

“Suo moto” is a Latin term that means “of its own accord.” In legal contexts, it refers to a situation where a court takes up a case or initiates proceedings on its own, without any party filing a formal complaint or petition. It signifies that the court is acting independently and proactively to address a particular issue or situation.

The accused, Gobin Rai, alias Monu, had allegedly raped the victim under the pretext of marriage. According to the victim, the two had met through a matrimonial website and he had promised her hand in marriage. However, after having sexual relations with her, he refused to marry her stating that she was a “mangalik”. The victim’s counsel refuted these claims.

The advocate representing the accused, Ajay Kumar Singh, stated in court that astrology can be studied in universities and is a science. On May 23rd the Allahabad High Court, headed by Justice Brij Raj Singh, asked the parties involved in the case to submit their “kundalis” to the Astrology Department’s Head at Lucknow University.

The Astrology Department’s Head was requested to submit a report within 3 weeks, which determined whether the claims presented by the accused’s advocate were true. Justice Brij Raj Singh had passed the order for the astrology report on a bail application by the accused.

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Supreme Court’s Decision

Justice Dhulia said that the bench believed the consideration of astrology was totally out of context of the case and the party’s right to privacy was disturbed. Justice Mithal, the other judge on the vacation bench, added to what Justice Dhulia stated and said that he does not understand why astrology was considered in the case.

The Solicitor General of India, whose role is to provide legal advice to the Government of India, Tushar Mehta, said that the court will not argue on whether astrology is a science, but the order is disturbing when it is on a judicial forum.

After the High Court’s order, the court was listed for a further hearing regarding the matter on June 26. After the Supreme Court took suo moto cognizance of the High Court order and stayed the same, the bench stated that the case of bail for the accused will be decided on its own merits during the next hearing of the High Court.

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