- The laws involving protection of women are being misused in the recent times.
- Such misuse aids to the loss of time of the Courts.
- They also aid in shrinking the significance of the authentic cases of sexual offences committed against women.
- The Judiciary is being observed to have penalised the complainants in such vexatious cases in order to deter such registrations.
According to the reports published by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) in 2020, the number of approximate rape cases lodged in various parts of India per day were 87, amounting to a total of 32,033 cases in total lodged around the world. The reports were pertaining to the year 2019, and statistics showed that the number recorded in 2019 were about 7% higher than the numbers recorded in 2018.
Rape is a heinous crime, about which stringent legislations have been drafted in an attempt to deter it. The Indian Penal Code prescribes what constitutes a rape according to the provisions of Section 375 of the Code, which defines rape as a sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, with her consent when such consent has been obtained by coercion, or with her consent when, due to temporary unsoundness of mind, she is unable to comprehend what he is giving consent to.
The punishment for the offence of rape, as prescribed under the provisions of Section 376 of the IPC as an imprisonment for a term of minimum seven years which may extend to lifetime imprisonment of the convict, and such exemplary punishment is expected to instil a sense of fear on the offender which may prove detrimental to the commission of the offence.
FALSE ACCUSATIONS OF RAPE
The crimes against women are the on the rise in the country, and therefore speedy trial has demanded the establishment of Special Courts for the speedy delivery of justice to the victims by the judicial system.
The country has also seen a number of false allegations of rape brought on people of various age and offices, based on their personal vendetta, and in an attempt to harass the accused and lower their social stand.
A research conducted by the Delhi Commission of Women (DCW) states that as high as 53.2% of the total cases involving rape, lodged in Delhi between April 2013 and July 2014 were false.
A report by the NCRB showed that out of the 28,469 cases lodged according to police accounts, 2875 of the cases were false.
The filing of false cases of rape should be punished with full fervour as it not only reduces the significance and impact of the nature of the offence but also slows down the process of the delivery of justice to the authentic ones.
RECENT EXAMPLES OF VEXATIOUS CASES
Alok Bajpai v. State of UP
The case of Alok Bajpai v. State of UP saw the Hon’ble High Court granting bail to Alok Bajpai, the 22 year old rape accused, for having committed rape on a 17 year student of the D.N.M. Institute of Engineering owing to inconsistencies in her statement, which proved to the Court that the victim had consented to the sexual relations with the accused prior to such incident for which such complaint had been lodged. The victim had also stated that the earlier incidents of intercourse were not only consensual, but arose from a romantic affair between them and she was in a state to fully comprehend the nature of the affair, and the consequences of the intercourse.
The order was delivered by a single-judge Bench of Justice Mohd. Faiz Alam Khan, who, considering the arguments of both sides granted bail to the accused, subject to certain conditions.
The FIR in relation to the instant incident was lodged in Police Station Madiaon, District Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, on the 11th of September. The complaint stated that the accused was in possession of obscene photographs of the victim, owing to which he telephonically blackmailed her to meet him. Then he took her to some room on a bike and allegedly committed rape on her from where she was “recovered” in the middle of the night. These were the statements of the victim as had been recorded under the provisions of Section 164 of the CrPC.
In the statement of the complainant recorded under the provisions of Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the father of the victim submitted that the accused and his daughter were involved in an affair, and that they had had consensual sexual relations at least 4 to 5 times before the instant incident took place.
Details of the Case
The counsel for the applicant strongly claimed that the accused had been implicated falsely, and that there was no evidence of the rape accused being in possession of any obscene photographs. On seizure of the phone of the accused, a total of three photographs of the victim had been found, which were not obscene even in the opinion of the police.
Also, the statement under Section 161 did not record the occurrence of any sexual activity on the day of the occurrence of the alleged rape.
The Court recorded thus, “It appears that the applicant and prosecutrix were having an affair and the prosecutrix in her statement recorded under Section 161 CrPC has admitted that the prosecutrix as well as the applicant had indulged in consensual sexual activity for 4-5 times prior to the impugned incident.”
“The age of the prosecutrix is about 17 years and having regard to the fact that she was studying in D.N.M. Institute of Engineering, it could not be ruled out that she was possessing sufficient knowledge and was in a position to fully understand the nature and consequences of sexual activity,” the Court observed.
The Court further took into account the previous record of the 22 year old accused who had never been convicted of any offence, and had been in custody of the police since the 12th of September, 2020, and the matter was still pending trial.
The Hon’ble Court granted bail to the applicant who had been charged with offences under the provisions of Sections 363 (punishment for kidnapping) and 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with Sections 3 and 4 (penetrative sexual assault) of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act, 2012, on the following conditions:
(i) “The applicant shall not attempt to make any contact either with the prosecutrix or with the informant.
(ii) The applicant would remain present before the trial court on all dates fixed and if in any eventuality, he is not in a position to attend the trial court, he will instruct his Counsel to do all needful required for the early disposal of the case and shall file an undertaking before the trial court that he will not seek any adjournment when the prosecution witnesses will be present.
(iii) The applicant shall not tamper with the prosecution evidence by intimidating/pressurizing the witnesses, during the investigation or trial.
(iv) The applicant shall cooperate in the trial sincerely without seeking any adjournment.
(v) The applicant shall not indulge in any criminal activity or commission of any crime after being released on bail.”
Pritpal Kaur v. State of Punjab
In the case of Pritpal Kaur v. State of Punjab and another, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had imposed a fine of Rs. 1 lakh on a Moga woman who had initiated a “false and frivolous case” against the accused.
The petitioner’s claim to have been raped and blackmailed with respect to compromising photographs, by a local Congress worker was found to have been a false allegation against the accused, by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The complainant was further imposed with the fine for having made an attempt to “abuse the process of law but also overawe the authorities.”
Hospital Staff Nurse (not named) v. Dr. Ashok Chowdhury
In the case Hospital Staff Nurse (not named) v. Dr. Ashok Chowdhury, the Ahmedabad High Court imposed a fine of Rs. 10000 on a hospital nurse for having initiated a vexatious case for false claims of molestation by the supervisor doctor.
It was found by the Court that the petitioner had misused the law that had originally been formulated for the protection of women, and penalised her so for having inflicted “mental, physical and social harassment” on the accused.
REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO THE FALSELY ACCUSED IN ANY CRIMINAL CASE
(i) An Anticipatory bail can be applied for in case such person has not already been arrested.
(ii) The High Court can enforce its inherent power under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, in lieu of which such FIR can be quashed if the Court is of the opinion that there is lack of prima facie evidence against the accused and that such accused is being falsely implicated.
(iii) Article 226 of the Constitution of India guarantees the falsely accused with the Writ of Prohibition or Mandamus.
Prohibition ensures putting a stop on such criminal proceedings by the subordinate Court by an order of the High Court.
Mandamus rebukes such authority, i.e., the police officer who has lodged such complaint.
PENALTIES THAT MIGHT BE IMPOSED ON SUCH OFFENDER
(i) Section 182 of Indian Penal Code provides for the imprisonment of such offender for up to six months, or fine upto One thousand rupees or both.
(ii) Section 211 of Indian Penal Code provides for a punishment of imprisonment upto 2 years, or with fine, or both if a person with intent to cause injury to any person, institutes a criminal proceeding or falsely charges any person of an offence.
(iii) Criminal Defamation under Sections 499 and Section 500 of Indian Penal Code punishes with imprisonment upto 2 years, or with fine, or with both if the person against whom the false F.I.R was lodged gets acquitted from that false case or gets the F.I.R quashed, and files a criminal defamation case against the person who has falsely implicated him in the previous case.
The institution of falsified cases involves loss of time of the justice system in the wild goose chase, when the Courts of law are filled to the brim with pending matters involving several serious problems. Thus such vexatious cases delays the delivery of justice for authentic matters that the court would have considered and subsequently disposed during such time.
Such cases also harm the social image of the falsely accused, and the heightened interference of the media and public opinion, which criminalises the accused in most cases, wreaks havoc on their mental health, social stance and a permanent damage to their public image.
Therefore, such acts of registering false cases must be discourages as a morality of the public and also legally, by the Courts.