Supreme Court Grants Bail to Kerala Lawyers Accused of Client Rape

The Supreme Court granted bail to two Kerala advocates accused of raping their client in the case of XXX v. MJ Johnson and Others. Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Prashant Kumar Mishra emphasized that the accused, being lawyers, held a dominant position over the victim, questioning the High Court’s decision to grant anticipatory bail.

The Court noted that the accused were already in custody since May 6, 2024, and the investigation was ongoing. Considering these factors, bail was deemed appropriate. However, the Court ordered that upon release, the advocates must maintain distance and refrain from communicating with the victim or any case-related witnesses. Additional bail conditions may be imposed by the trial court after hearing the Public Prosecutor.

Supreme Court Halts Kerala High Court’s Anticipatory Bail

On December 1, the Supreme Court halted a Kerala High Court decision that granted anticipatory bail to two advocates, following a plea by the survivor challenging the bail. Today, Senior Advocate V Chitambresh, representing the survivor, argued that the High Court’s bail order was flawed. While the Supreme Court agreed with this assessment, it decided to grant bail to the advocates since they were already in custody.

The High Court, in its anticipatory bail order, had noted that the survivor filed the complaint against the accused in June 2023, although she alleged abuse dating back to when she sought legal assistance for her divorce case in 2021. The High Court suggested that the complaint might have stemmed from dissatisfaction over compensation in the divorce proceedings.

Prosecution Allegations Against the Lawyers

The prosecution contends that the two lawyers, in their professional capacity, sexually assaulted their client, who sought legal assistance for her divorce case. Allegedly, one of the lawyers lured her to a hotel, spiked her drink, and assaulted her. It’s claimed that he promised to buy her a house and care for her children, with the abuse continuing in Thallasery, where the other lawyer also assaulted her. Furthermore, it’s alleged that the first lawyer recorded nude images and videos of the victim on his phone.

Both lawyers face charges under IPC Sections 376 (rape), 354 (outraging modesty), 120B (conspiracy), and 34 (common intention).

Accused Lawyers’ Defense and Counterclaims

The accused refuted the survivor’s accusations, asserting that she lodged a police complaint due to dissatisfaction with the compensation in her divorce case. They argued that she was also upset because they couldn’t fulfill promises of financial assistance for her child’s education and purchasing a house.

Additionally, they claimed to have transferred ₹3 lakh to the survivor based on advice from friends and relatives. The lawyers further stated that on July 3, the survivor informed the Kozhikode Police Commissioner that any relationship between her and the accused was consensual, expressing no desire to pursue the complaint.

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About the Author: Payal Singh