In a shocking statement issued on August 1, the Delhi High Court observed that women nowadays tend to use rape laws as a mere weapon to exact revenge in case of a consensual relationship turning sour. The same was observed by the court of law while deciding an appeal against the acquittal of a person accused of rape.
The Single Judge Bench of Justice Pratibha Rani observed:
There (are a) number of cases where both persons, out of their own will and choice, develop consensual physical relationship, when the relationship breaks due to some reason, the women use the law as a weapon for vengeance and personal vendetta.
They tend to convert such consensual acts as an incident of rape may be out of anger and frustration thereby defeating the very purpose of the provision. This requires a clear demarcation between the rape and consensual sex especially in the case where complaint is that consent was given on promise to marry.
In this particular case, although the petitioner had filed an FIR against the accused under Sections 328 and 376 of the IPC, she later changed her testimony and said that the FIR was lodged out of misunderstanding. The deposition of the prosecutrix reads:
I know the accused since March, 2013 through Facebook. We became friends for one month and then developed love. Thereafter, we started a live in relationship. Now I got married with him on 29.11.15…
…The physical relations were made with the accused with my own consent. I do not want to pursue with the present case as I am living happily with the accused. I pray that the accused may be acquitted as he is innocent and did not commit any offence against me.
Thereafter the trial court acquitted the accused noting that the petitioner had failed to show any evidence of her being raped or tolerating any incriminating thing perpetrated by the accused. However, on approaching the higher court, the petitioner said that she had been forced to make such statements by the accused.
The High Court later dismissed the case by observing:
The petitioner in this case is a matured lady who was aged about 27 years at the time of registration of FIR. She was having friendly relations with the respondent No.2 since the year 2013 and as per the FIR she had given consent to have physical intimacy on the promise of respondent No.2 to marry her…
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…In the leave petition the factum of marriage on 29th November, 2015 between the parties is admitted. Thus, the petitioner cannot claim that she was misled to make a statement before the Court on 21st March, 2016 which led to the acquittal of the accused.
Now, the question remains – What about the plea of the woman? How could the honorable justice be so sure that it was a consensual case and that the lady was simply trying to churn out her revenge?
However, seeing the plight of the country and its series of judgement against women in the recent times, this statement would have indeed been a shocker had it been made in favor of the woman.
It is definitely not the first time that a law aimed to protect women and their rights has gone against women. It may be recalled that an Indian dignitary had said a few months back that there must not be any rape charges framed against the perpetrator if the woman was found to get wet. That a woman is more than an object who has her own bodily mechanisms seems absolutely unknown and unheard of to our ministers and judges.
While the Narendra Modi government promised a better India to all of us during elections, his words have definitely failed us. If the Nirbhaya rape case during the erstwhile UPA government was a gruesome and abhorrent crime, the Rohtak gang rape case and now the Shimla gang rape case are no less heinous. And we dare not even venture a bit into the territory of child rapes in India.
Furthermore, what shocks us the most is both UPA and the NDA government seem to be similar when weighed against each other on the basis of their phobia for marital rapes. The fact that there still is no definite law passed against marital rapes in India (unless the husband lives far off) is enough to portray the loophole we have in our society.
Even in the 21st century, women are but playthings in the hands of the men. And once a woman is tagged to be someone’s wife, the husband seems to have all the rights in the world to rape her day after day. It seems consent becomes insignificant in the face of a marriage certificate.
Then there are the societal norms and, of course, the cops who leave no stone unturned to convince a raped woman to keep the entire episode to herself lest she “bring shame to the entire family” – a major reason why only fraction of rape cases get reported.
Coming back to this case, it is an extremely poignant situation from the point of view of a woman since the observing judge was herself a woman. Although we have had judges imposing their own viewpoint while observing a case, we wonder how difficult it is to understand that a woman might be in a relationship – a physical one, mind you – and still get raped.
So, instead attaching the stigma of “vendetta” to women in peril straightaway, it would be great if the judges could venture a little further into a case and not simply dump their own prejudices on a woman.
Perhaps, it is high time that India, and Indians, stop glorifying women on pen and paper and do something worthwhile in an effort to make India a better place for all.