Bhil woman, paraded naked, gets justice after 16 years
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 today rued that the punishment was too little and the state never sought its enhancement.
"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.