Rape laws are being misused today: B.N. Srikrishna

Retired Justice of the Supreme Court says anonymity should be extended to the accused too in rape cases

Updated - April 23, 2022 09:51 pm IST

Published - April 23, 2022 09:50 pm IST - Mumbai

Image for representational purpose only.

Image for representational purpose only.

Retired Justice of the Supreme Court B.N. Srikrishna spoke about the low conviction rate in rape cases and said, “There is no doubt that rape laws are being misused in the country.” He also advocated that the name of the accused be kept anonymous. 

The former Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court on Friday said, “Statistics show that even after the amendment of rape laws [after the Nirbhaya rape case], there have been lesser number of convictions. It is time that rape cases be looked at in a very objective manner. We need to question — is the woman really subjected to cruelty and atrocities? Otherwise, in the general course of things, the accused is presumed to be innocent unless proven guilty should apply. However, in rape cases, whatever the woman says is treated as the gospel truth. But that is not the intention of the law. It is not the way to empower women.”

He was talking at the screening of documentary film India’s Sons, directed by Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj and Neeraj Kumar, which showed stories of some innocent men falsely accused of rape and later acquitted.

“I have come across cases of rape when I was a judge, where either in a consensual relationship or in co-habitation for a long time, there is a disagreement and the woman cries rape. There are instances where a secret affair is going on, people get to know of it and in order to come out of the ignominy of it, she cries rape," Justice Srikrishna said.

“What happens is that the man is accused of rape, gets arrested, newspapers carry it on the front page, but when there is an acquittal, it is not carried in the same way. This is terrible,” he added. “You have taken a man, suspected him of a heinous crime, dragged him to the mud and let him lie there. This happens due to the attitude of the investigating agency and the judiciary.”

Talking about rape laws, Justice Srikrishna said: “Earlier, a woman would hardly ever go to the police station and make a complaint because she would have to live with a very inglorious and painful period of her life. She would have to repeat her experience to many police officers, give her testimony in court and be subjected to humiliation. This is the exact reason why parliamentarians thought that the law needs to be slightly tilted in favour of the woman, but that is being misused today."

He also said, “If you think it’s necessary to give anonymity to the victim of rape, why not extend it to the accused as well? It is time that a movement like this [the film] began because the balance has got tilted.”

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