Home arrow Archives arrow Economic Highlights arrow Economic Highlights 2015 arrow Misuse Of Rape Laws: LACUNAE IN GENDER EMPOWERMENT, By Shivaji Sarkar, 25 Sept, 2015
News and Features
INFA Digest
Parliament Spotlight
Journalism Awards
Misuse Of Rape Laws: LACUNAE IN GENDER EMPOWERMENT, By Shivaji Sarkar, 25 Sept, 2015 Print E-mail

Economic Highlights

New Delhi, 25 September 2015

Misuse Of Rape Laws


By Shivaji Sarkar


Laws are meant to protect. But the allegations have to be true as nobody should have a complaint of being implicated in false cases. While the premise of law is often used in its spirit, there are some which are often not applied judiciously. Whereby, it might hurt, damage reputation and costs billions to the person along-with the employer and society.


Pertinently, a Delhi court’s concern vis-à-vis a false complaint against a man has raised many questions. On 28 January an Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat said women filing false rape complaints should be punished. His observation was in a case against a Delhi businessman at the behest of someone who wanted to settle scores with him. Justice Bhat defined the case “as a classic example of how men are being falsely implicated in rape cases to settle personal scores”


Observing that the accused even after his acquittal has to live with the trauma throughout his life, the judge added, “Time has come when the courts should deal firmly with women filing false rape complaints. These women, who turn out to be tormentors and not victims, should be punished under the appropriate provisions of law”.


The Metropolitan Magistrate Shivani Chauhan also dismissed the false complaint of a woman in a dowry case and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh.


In fact, in 2013 the Delhi High Court too had commented that women were using fabricated rape cases for personal crusade, harassment, extortion and forcing men to marry them. In December, 2014, the Supreme Court also made similar observations.


Significantly, Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary told the Lok Sabha during the monsoon session that as many as 31,292 cases of alleged cruelty by husbands and in-laws, filed by women under Section 498A of the IPC between 2011-13 were found to be false or a mistake of fact or law after police investigation.


Similarly, a total of 1,207 cases of insult to a woman’s modesty (Section 509 of the IPC) were found to be untrue by the police. Alongside, the number of cases under this Section has also increased from 386 in 2011 to 482 in 2013. Resulting, in the Home Ministry issuing two advisories to States to curb misuse of Section 498A of the IPC.


Further, the Delhi Commission of Women in a report last October revealed that out of 2753 rape complaints filed between April 2013-July 2014, only 1287 were found to be genuine.


Undoubtedly, the menace is spreading and has extended to Government and corporate offices. Already, 526 cases of sexual harassment have been reported by women which are being investigated, notwithstanding, some earlier cases that were far from genuine. In one case, a recently recruited young officer was alleged to be harassing a married woman. But a departmental inquiry found she as smitten by the youth and the complaint was false. 


However, many in corporate India underscore there are no easy answers as the definition of sexual harassment is ever expanding and often ambiguous. Lawyers also cite several cases of false sexual persecution cases where women have been found to take the easy way out to defame a male colleague.


Also, there is huge resentment over the fact that the law in allegations of sexual harassment is biased heavily in favour of the women complainant.


In light of this misuse, Supreme Court former judge KT Thomas pointed out, “Whenever you make a law very stringent on account of pressures from emotionally surcharged social reactions, there is a real danger of its misuse.”


Notably, false accusations, reverse harassment and blackmailing in the corporate world or academia are also on the rise. Nonetheless, it is seldom that an institute or university acts fast to uncover the truth as happened in a recent case at IIM, Indore, where a nine-member Gender Sensitivity Committee (GSC) headed by a retired justice of Madhya Pradesh Indrani Dutta found that the complainant, a lady professor had falsely accused her senior colleague of sexual harassment. Her contract was later terminated.


In a similar case at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia earlier this year, a Federal Court ordered a woman engineering professor to pay Aus$ 900,000 for a failed sexual harassment case. She had made the complaint after she was accused of poor performance. 


Back home, recently four sexual harassment cases examined by the Central Administrative Tribunal were found to be false and motivated. This compelled CAT judges KB Suresh and PK Pradhan   to question certain provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013 which encouraged biased outcome against men rather than neutral fact finding. Judges were critical of Section 4 and 7 of the Act terming these unconstitutional as it encouraged premeditated bias against men!


Furthermore, National Crime Records Bureau data reveals a dramatic surge in the number of cases being filed under crimes against women category. This should be interpreted as willingness of women to take on violators and perpetrators of crimes against them under the new gender empowerment laws.


But the extremely low conviction of 23 per cent cases and increasing number of court observations regarding false and motivated matters being filed against men would suggest that males are becoming victims of systemic abuse by women!


Additionally, the prosecution is often unable to establish guilt of the accused. Nonetheless, the fate of men, especially in high profile cases such as of ex-Supreme Court judge Justice AK Ganguly or like a Delhi boy Sarvjeet Singh accused of harassment by AAP activist Jasleen Kaur are sealed as soon as they are proclaimed accused followed by social media ostracization!


The male version of incidents is either ignored by the media or given fleeting treatment. Thereby, discovery of truth becomes a victim of sensationalism. Consequently, each case imposes severe expenses on the victim and official agencies.


Undeniably, Indian laws have undergone a fundamental change to tackle the menace of crime against women to ensure their safety, security and dignity. Unfortunately, these provisions for an effective shield for women are being abused by some. Clearly, there has to be a serious dialogue about protecting the falsely accused along-with serious repercussions against anyone found to be filing false allegations. Time now for a review of gender empowering laws. ---- INFA


(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

< Previous   Next >
  Mambo powered by Best-IT