If acquitted of rape, should man be termed rape case survivor, asks court

The observation came when a rape victim had retracted her statement and turned hostile in court.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi | Published: August 27, 2014 12:38:51 am

A Delhi court, while acquitting a man of rape charges, posed the question— whether persons acquitted of rape charges ‘honourably’ should be addressed as ‘rape case survivors’. The observation came in a case where the alleged rape victim had retracted her statement and turned hostile in court.

Additional Sessions Judge Nivedita Anil Sharma, while pronouncing the verdict, stated, “I would also like to mention that in recent times, a new expression is being used for a rape victim — that is a rape survivor. A woman, who has levelled allegations of rape, is now called rape survivor.

In the present case, the accused has been aquitted of the charge of rape as the prosecutrix retracted and turned hostile. In the circumstances, should an acquitted accused, who has been acquitted honourably, be addressed as a rape case survivor?”

The judge also observed that there is much to “ponder” about the “veracity” of the rape cases. The court also made observations on the “hue and cry” being raised that courts are not convicting the rape accused and said courts are not “swayed by emotions” and “reporting in the media”.

“It would not be out of place to mention that today, there is public outrage and a hue and cry is being raised everywhere that courts are not convicting the rape accused… it should not be ignored that the court has to confine itself to the ambit of law as well as testimonies of the witnesses and is not to be swayed by emotions or reporting in the media,” the judge said.

The observations come in a case where Ashwani Jaswal was accused of raping the woman after promising to marry her. Jaiswal was also accused of criminal breach of trust as it was alleged the victim has given approximately Rs 90 lakh and, when she demanded the money back, he refused.

However, the alleged victim, while deposing before the court, retracted and said the accused had not committed any offence and that she had filed the complaint before the police at the instance of her “well wisher” and on his “wrong advice”. She also deposed before the court that they had established physical relations with her consent.

“The alleged victim, who is the star witness, has turned hostile and has not supported the prosecution case and, more importantly, has not assigned any criminal role to the accused. The prosecution case is closed,” the court said.

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