In a recent legal development, the Supreme Court grappled with a nuanced question pertaining to the potential culpability of women as an accused in rape cases governed by Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). This inquiry arose from a case involving a 62-year-old widow who asserted that she was falsely implicated in a rape case filed against her son.
The court expressed uncertainty regarding the applicability of charges against women, given the explicit mention of a "man" as the perpetrator in the relevant legal provision. Before adjourning the anticipatory bail plea filed by the widow, the court issued a notice, highlighting the need for further exploration of this legal intricacy.
The petitioner's counsel argued that established legal principles dictates that women cannot be accused of rape and cannot be deemed to share a common intention in gangrape cases, emphasizing their exclusion from the definition of rape.
The core allegations in the case revolve around the widow and her elder son being accused of involvement in the rape of a woman earlier in the year. The complainant, who had a long-distance relationship with the widow's elder son, claimed they had an informal "marriage" via video call, without any rituals. The widow stated that family pressure led to a compromise agreement with the complainant, including a financial settlement of ₹11 lakh, to end the relationship.
However, the complainant later filed a criminal case accusing the widow and her younger son of rape, wrongful confinement, hurt, and criminal intimidation. Despite facing rejections for pre-arrest bail from both the trial court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the widow sought relief from the Supreme Court.
The complainant contended that she had committed to marrying the elder son after a three-year relationship, facing threats of suicide if she chose another partner. She further claimed that the elder son instructed her to reside with his mother until they could undergo a court marriage and move to the USA. According to the complainant, pressure from the widow and younger son ultimately led to her coerced marriage, confinement, rape, and threats.
In response, the widow dismissed the accusations as a fabricated case with false claims emerging after a substantial delay. While the High Court acknowledged these matters as trial issues, it denied the anticipatory bail plea.
Notably, a related case from the Allahabad High Court previously asserted that while a woman cannot commit rape, facilitating gang-rape could potentially result in prosecution under amended IPC provisions.
Case: KAMALJIT KAUR vs. THE STATE OF PUNJAB ,
Petition(s) for Special Leave to Appeal (Crl.) No(s).15265/2023.
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