Since a “rape victim” is referred to as a “rape survivor” these days, should a man who is “honourably acquitted” after a “considerable period” be addressed as a “rape case survivor”? This question was posed by a Special Judge in Tis Hazari Court, while acquitting a man charged with rape and under the POCSO Act.
The case dates back to 2012-2013, when a girl who was one month short of turning 18 had lodged a rape complaint in west Delhi’s Ranhola. A chargesheet was filed, but the girl turned hostile during recording of her statement before the court. At that time, she deposed that she was in love with the accused and the two had a consensual “physical relationship”, but she got upset when he refused to marry her.
While acquitting the accused — four-and-a-half years after the case was registered — Additional Sessions Judge Nivedita Anil Sharma said, “That in recent times, a new expression is being used for a rape victim, that is, a rape survivor. The prosecutrix, a woman or a girl who is alive and levelled allegations of rape by a man, is now called rape survivor. The accused has been acquitted of charges of rape after trial, as evidence of prosecutrix is not reliable. In the circumstances, such a person — an acquitted accused who has remained in custody for a considerable period during inquiry , investigation and trial, and has been acquitted honorably — should he now be addressed as a rape case survivor?”
The judge had found several “infirmities and contradictions” between the woman’s statements to the police and to the court. The court said it cannot ignore the fact that the accused has suffered “humiliation, distress and misery”, besides the litigation expenses.
“His plight may also continue after his acquittal as his implication may have caused an uproar in society, but his acquittal may not even be noticed,” the November 3 judgement said. “He may also file case for damages against the prosecutrix, if advised.”
Sharma added, “No one discusses about the honour and dignity of a man as all are only fighting for the rights, honour and dignity of women. Laws for protection of women are being made, which may be misused by a woman, but where is the law to protect a man from such a woman where he is being persecuted and implicated in false cases, as in the present case? Perhaps, now it is the time to take a stand for a man.”