Bhil woman, paraded naked, gets justice after 16 yrs

The Supreme Court rued that the punishment was too little and the state never sought its enhancement.

Last Updated: Jan 05, 2011, 18:56 PM IST

New Delhi: Upholding a year-long jail term
to four persons, including a woman, for parading a 25-year-old
Bhil woman naked 16 years ago in a Maharashtra village, the
Supreme Court Wednesday rued that the punishment was too little
and the state never sought its enhancement.

"The parade of a tribal woman on the village road in
broad day light is shameful, shocking and outrageous," said a
bench of justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra, while
upholding the conviction of the four perpetrators of the crime
dating back to May 13, 1994.

"The dishonour of victim Nandabai called for harsher
punishment, and we are surprised that the state government did
not file any appeal for enhancement of the punishment awarded
by the Additional Sessions Judge in February 1998," the bench
said.

The bench also lamented that the Bombay High Court
earlier, while adjudicating the appeal by the four convicts,
had set aside their convictions under stringent Scheduled
Cases and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,
1989 on mere technicalities that the victim was not able to
produce her caste certificate.

Upset by the incident, the bench went on to recall
mythological incident in Hindu epic Mahabaharata, where guru
Dronacharya had tricked Bhil youth Eklavya into severing his
thumb and giving it to him as his fees for learning archery
under his inspiration.

Observing that Dronacharya had taken Eklavya`s thumb
merely to ensure that there was no better archer than his
favourite pupil Arjuna, the bench said, "It is time to undo
the historical injustice to tribals."

The incident dates back to 1994, when the Bhil woman
was assaulted and paraded naked by four of her co-villagers -
Kailash, Balu, Subhash and Subhadra, for having a relation
with one of their family members, Vikram, who was also the
father of Nandabai`s daughter.

The four had assaulted her and paraded her naked to
drive her out of the village as they wanted to get Vikram
married to some other girl of their own caste.

PTI