LIFE is known to have huge and startling surprises in store for all of us. One such bolt from the blue knocked on our door on January 17 when a journalist from a lesser known newspaper in Lucknow called my wife, saying that a Ghaziabad woman had accused me of raping her and he wanted my wife’s reaction, and mine, to this news.
This definitely was news to us as well—completely bizarre and unthought-of. The story narrated as regards this alleged rape was akin to a political pot-boiler. This woman had approached the UP State Women Commission alleging that some politician got her acquainted with us in Ghaziabad and my wife, Nutan, called her to Lucknow, falsely luring her with the promise of a job. As per the allegation, when she came to our Lucknow residence, Nutan brought this woman before me and got us acquainted with each other. I allegedly told this woman that I would make her life beautiful, all that she needed to do was to follow my directions. The woman, oblivious of my ill-intent, agreed. As per the woman’s version, I took her to my room late in the night and molested and raped her. When the lady came out of the room after this episode, her husband was allegedly infuriated, accusing me of cheating. The accusations say that thereafter we, my wife and I, threatened them with jail if they made a complaint in this regard.
The truth, on the contrary, is that this is a completely concocted allegation, as would be obvious even from a plain reading of the facts as narrated in the complaint. The reasons are many and pretty obvious:
1. It is almost next to impossible for a woman to agree to her husband raping another woman in her own house, when she is present there.
2. It is all the more improbable for a woman to become an active accomplice in this act and to facilitate its doing.
3. It is almost unthinkable that all this can be done by a person, knowing fully well that the husband of the woman being raped is standing just outside the door.
4. It is equally improbable that this man and the woman would not make any noise about this incidence and would move as silently from the place as they presumably did, merely due to the threat of being sent to jail.
5. The complaint has no dates and timings in it—neither of the alleged meeting in Ghaziabad nor of the said incidence in Lucknow.
6. The complaint does not even have the name of the political leader who allegedly arranged her meeting with us.
Later, it also emerged that the husband of this woman is not all that helpless but is a member of the ruling political party, with a decent following and influence in his locality. It also emerged during the preliminary enquiry made by journalists from Ghaziabad that her own daughter did not know of this incidence even three days after it allegedly took place. There are many more factors that make this complaint completely false.
But the purpose of writing this article is not to defend myself through it. I very well know this is neither the correct method nor does it have any moral, legal or social validity. Despite all the points made above, there might still be many who would believe in the truth of this episode and it is because of the presence of such a fair section of the population that I am writing this article.
To bring forth my point, I present the PTI news release on this incidence. Its title says a lot -“Woman Alleges Rape by IGP, Police Official’s Wife Refutes Charge”. The article says: “A woman here has approached the State Women Commission alleging that she was raped by Inspector General of Police (civil defence) Amitabh Thakur, a charge refuted by his wife who sought an inquiry into the allegation. When IGP Thakur was contacted with regard to the allegation, his wife Nutan alleged that they were being harassed ever since she had filed a PIL in Allahabad High Court regarding the case of Yadav Singh, the suspended chief engineer of Noida Authority and investigation of cases of engaging child labour in Hindon river area by her husband.” … etc.
A reading of these words makes it quite apparent that the first and preliminary thought that comes to mind is that an allegation of rape has been made and the IGP and his wife are refuting it. Thus, the first part of the sentence has already clearly done the damage that it sought to do. This is only the social aspect of the problem. Add to it the legal aspects and then one realises the true danger.
After the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013, passed in the aftermath of Delhi rape case, in Section 376(1), under which the allegations of this woman would fall, the minimum punishment is seven years while the maximum can go up to life imprisonment. Even the procedural laws are extremely in favour of the woman. Under Section 154(1) of the CrPC, the FIR needs to be written only by a woman police officer. Section 161 CrPC says that the statement of the victim is also to be recorded only by a woman police officer. Section 164(5A)(a) CrPC mandates a judicial magistrate to record the statement of the woman while Section 173(2)(i)(h) CrPC makes it necessary to include the medical report of the woman in the case diary. Section 309(1) CrPC asks for day-to-day hearing of these cases while Section 357(B) CrPC talks of additional compensation in all such cases, in cases of conviction. Even the Indian Evidence Act has special provisions for appreciation of evidence in rape cases, such as Section 53A which prohibits discussing the past conduct and reputation of the woman as an alibi. Section 228A IPC makes any mention of the name of the rape victim a direct offence.
THUS, it is very apparent that once such a charge gets placed on some individual, he has no option than to run for cover, both socially and legally. Whether the charge is true or false, whether it makes sense or not, are issues that are secondary in nature. The concept of burden of proof shifts to the accused, both legally and socially. This is the real threat and danger involved in the crime and herein lies the need for having a relook at the criminal provisions related with it.
For instance, the law prescribes that the victim’s name shall not be revealed but there is no such bar on naming of the accused, whether the allegation is true or false. This is true even for women accused. Thus everyone now knows that a woman, Nutan Thakur, wife of an IPS officer, has been accused of rape, albeit totally falsely. On the contrary, the false victim is well protected by law.
Further, while the crime of rape is a cognisable and non-bailable offence, registering a false charge of rape is non-cognisable, where the police can investigate the matter only after court permission. This is again another issue that needs to be relooked.
Finally, this matter also brings forth the immense possibilities of the misuse of these criminal provisions and this is a discussion that cannot be delayed, considering the dangerous facets of the entire matter.
This is just some of the learning. I derived from the above-mentioned episode of rape, which I apparently committed, without ever knowing about it.
Amitabh Thakur, an IPS officer from UP, is also working for transparency in governance. The views expressed