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Karnataka HC urges govt to impose fines on silent spectators in Belagavi woman stripping case

The Karnataka High Court proposes fines on Vantamuri village residents for passive witnessing of a distressing incident. Emphasizing collective responsibility, it urges Law Commission insights for legislative reforms, highlighting societal complexities hindering responses to crimes. The court critiques police and courts' conduct, aiming for confidence-building measures amid dissatisfaction.

Karnataka HC urges govt to impose fines on silent spectators in Belagavi woman stripping case vkp
First Published Dec 19, 2023, 10:53 AM IST

The Karnataka High Court advised the government to levy fines on the villagers who remained passive witnesses to the incident concerning a woman's disrobing in Vantamuri village of Hukkeri taluk, Belagavi, 

Chief Justice Prasanna Balachandra Varale and Justice Krishna S. addressed the issue during the hearing of a petition related to the incident, treating the case as a voluntary act based on the registered case. The bench, led by Justice Dixit, deliberated on the matter on Monday.

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Expressing dissatisfaction at the silence of villagers during the distressing incident, the court proposed the imposition of a collective tax on all village residents, emphasizing the need to convey a strong message and instil a sense of responsibility among them. Drawing a historical reference to the British era, where a tax called 'Punda danda' was imposed on villages with thieves, the court aimed to prompt accountability among the villagers, especially the wrongdoers.

The court raised pertinent questions about the literacy rate, civic participation, and the role of the villagers in such incidents. It probed into the reasons behind their silence and questioned whether fear of authorities hindered their response.

Additionally, the court highlighted the social complexities that prevent people from reporting crimes, citing concerns about judicial proceedings and the lack of confidence in law enforcement and judicial systems.

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Expressing disappointment with the conduct of both the police and the courts, the court emphasized the need for confidence-building measures and called for insights into why no one intervened during the distressing incident. Furthermore, the court urged the Law Commission to consider these insights to aid in legislative reforms, emphasizing the importance of aligning laws with the realities of people's lives.

Concluding the session, the court emphasized the need for collective responsibility, condemning the inaction of those who silently witnessed the incident, and labelling it as collective irresponsibility and stupidity.

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