Friday, Oct 31, 2014

Crying ‘Rape': Stringent law left expanded ambit of sexual assault open to misuse

Delhi Police’s data, which shows a rise in the registration of rape cases in the Capital last year, also shows that in 585 of the 1,559 cases, the accused was either the woman’s friend or lover. (Reuters) Delhi Police’s data, which shows a rise in the registration of rape cases in the Capital last year, also shows that in 585 of the 1,559 cases, the accused was either the woman’s friend or lover. (Reuters)
Written by D K Rituraj | New Delhi | Posted: March 9, 2014 12:15 am | Updated: March 9, 2014 8:39 am

The stringent law brought in a year ago in the wake of the Dec 16, 2012, Delhi gangrape expanded the ambit of sexual assault but, as is being realised now, left it open to misuse. D K Rituraj looks at why more than 70 pc of all rape cases filed in 2013 in the Capital have resulted in acquittal.

It was a New Year party Ashok* is unlikely to forget. As the 26-year-old was celebrating with his friends on the evening of January 3 this year at R K Puram, a Delhi Police team barged its way in and handcuffed him. On their way to the police station, they told him he had been arrested on the charge of rape, on the basis of an FIR filed by his ex-girlfriend. Ashok was shocked. They had broken up three years ago, but he “could not believe she could take such a step”. “I tried to convince everyone that there was some confusion. She could not have filed the FIR. We were in love,” Ashok says over the phone.

Ashok’s disbelief was proved right when his 25-year-old ex-girlfriend filed her affidavit before the sessions court. “The complaint given to the police was not drafted by me,” she wrote, requesting that it be withdrawn. “I never wanted any criminal complaint against him and neither wished to see him go to prison.” The woman named her lawyer and an NGO for “misguiding and compelling” her into lodging the criminal complaint.

On January 22, the sessions court released Ashok on bail and directed that an FIR be lodged against the parties responsible for the false complaint. Once an FIR is lodged, criminal proceedings shall be initiated against the parties under Section 211 of the IPC, which can lead to imprisonment for up to seven years along with fine.

Ashok spent three weeks in Tihar jail but, his lawyer believes, he was lucky. “There are so many cases where the man languishes in jail and then keeps running around courts for years before he gets acquitted,” says the lawyer, refusing to be identified.

One of these cases is of 27-year-old Ajay*, a consultant with a firm in Noida. Since 2011, Ajay has spent all the 45 days of leave he is entitled to in a year making appearances at the Saket court in Delhi, where he is being tried for “raping” his former live-in partner. He and the woman studied together in school in a small town of Uttar Pradesh. They went to different colleges, but met continued…

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