We have been publishing several articles on the misuse of rape laws in India. In July 2018, a Delhi court categorically noted that we must stop “stereotyping women as innocent gullible victims” in all scenarios, since many false cases were piling up, just with a motive to extort money, or men refusing to their terms, or other insignificant reasons. The court then also noted how this trend was unfortunate, when a woman would falsely accuse her employer or colleague of rape and sexual assault.
This case pertained to a matter where the court observed how a woman was found “deliberately lying” of having faced sexual harassment by her employer. The woman had also retracted her statements given to the police and in court.
Harshita Vatsayan, Metropolitian magistrate (Mahila court), not only acquitted the employer, but also directed Delhi Police to book the woman on charges of furnishing false evidence. The court observed,
Of late, there is a growing trend of false FIRs being filed by women alleging rape or other sexual misdemeanours. The alleged accused persons, in such instances, very often are compelled to compromise the matter with the complainant just to avoid the agony of a long-drawn trial. Hence, stereotyping complainants as innocent gullible victims is not correct in all scenarios. One has to view the reasons for the witness turning hostile, considering the factual matrix of the case.
The woman had joined her company in 2013 and alleged sexual harassment charges against her employer. According to her, she was being exploited as she was the only employee left at the company. She also claimed that her employer took umbrage at her refusal to conform to his demands and withheld her salary. The woman also alleged there was another employee who too had been subjected to a similar treatment.
The employer had a different version. He refuted the claims saying his wife, and not him, was the company’s director. In addition, he claimed that the woman complainant and her colleague were trying to extort money from his wife, though all their dues had been duly settled.
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While deposing before Vatsayan’s court on July 9, 2018, the woman claimed that she had not lodged any complaint against the accused. She also denied giving statements, bearing her signatures, either before the police or under 164 CrPC before the court.
The Judge, notwithstanding with the complainant’s behaviour and her revoked claims, instructed her to sign on a blank sheet to compare it to the earlier statements bearing her signatures.
Judge Vatsayan’s observation revealed that she had “deliberately” signed in “shaky writing”. After which the court said:
Evasive replies of the complainant show she is deliberately lying before the court. She has scant disregard for the legal obligation to speak the truth in court.
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The court said it cannot ignore the woman’s false FIR and hostile witnesses. The court affirmed that if a witness turns hostile to subvert judicial process, courts should not stand as a mute spectator; rather all possible efforts should be made to find the truth. Concluding the matter, the judge noted:
Criminal judicial system cannot be overturned by witnesses who do an audacious somersault from their testimony in court and also refuse to acknowledge that the complaint was lodged by them. Such witnesses ought to be dealt with sternly.
The police was accordingly directed to lodge an FIR against the women under Sections 177, 182, 193 and 211 of the IPC — dealing with furnishing of false information and evidence.
We, as a portal, firmly believe that unless there are strict repercussions of filing false cases, women will not be deterred to repeat the same again and again. This is gross injustice not just to falsely accused men, but also to real women victims of rape.
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