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Story of False Accusations of Rape

8 min read

By Meher Sunil Dabrai

Published on:  July 31, 2021 at 8:54 PM

Introduction

It is no secret that India is not a safe country for women and the violence against women is steadily on the rise and the Covid-19 pandemic is another reason for the rise in the rape cases, especially domestic rape cases in the country.

There have been rape cases making the headlines almost on a daily basis which has led to shine light on the story of False Rape Accusations.

A false accusation of rape is when a person accuses another person of raping them when in fact, no such incident has taken place. The reason behind such false allegations is usually different factors including lies, false memories and facilitated memories. This is also done to take revenge or put harass another person due some personal reasons.

Following the Nirbhaya case and the 2012 Gang rape case in Delhi, the number of rape cases that were reported to the police has risen substantially.

While some of these cases have been legitimate, others are merely false accusations to take undue advantage of the anti-rape laws in the country. In recent times, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended protecting the rape accused from “false cases” by keeping their identities undisclosed until the court delivers its verdict.

According to the report[1], only 1,287 of the 2,753 rape reports were judged to be true between April 2013 and July 2014, with the remaining 1,464 cases being deemed to be fraudulent.

Thus, this article discusses the concept of fake rape accusations.

What is the Punishment for rape?

Rape has been described as a serious sexual offence under the purview of Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. Under the Section, a man is said to commit rape when he has sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent.

Section 376 provides that a person that is found guilty of rape may be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years but which may also extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to a fine.

Thus, when a person is falsely accused of rape, he suffers an incredibly harsh punishment for a crime that he has not committed.

How common are false accusations of Rape?

Rape is an extremely serious allegation to be made against a person. It has been observed that a person who is accused of rape has often been ridiculed by his neighbors, colleagues, friends and even family even before the court has delivered its verdict.

Putting a person through such a defamatory proceeding in itself is a form of revenge which is usually the motive behind these cases.

While the names of the victims in all rape cases including these fake rape cases have been kept undisclosed, the names of the accused or the pronounced offenders have been given no privacy whatsoever and have been freely circulated.

Keeping the identity of the accused in such cases is one of the measures that can be taken to minimize the damage caused to one’s repute while he is under the radar for a crime that he may not be guilty of committing. As the number of reported rape cases have been on the rise in the country, so have the faulty motives of some people filing these cases.

Under these circumstances, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended protecting the rape accused from “false accusations” by keeping their identities confidential and undisclosed until they are found guilty.

The NHRC recommendation has been made at a time when offences like rape or any other sexual offences have been attracting major punishments as well as negative media attention thereby bringing the entire proceeding under the public eye. This has been found especially true in case of affluent and famous people who have been accused of such heinous crimes.

What are the reasons for falsely accusing a man?

  • False promises of marriage

Time and again it has proven difficult to verify if a rape case is has been falsely registered but it cannot be denied that instances of these fake cases have been on the rise. In some cases it has been alleged that men have had sexual relations with a woman fraudulently by promising to marry her in the future.

In such cases, the Bombay High Court has said that if the evidence of a “deep love affair” exists, the man cannot be convicted of rape on the basis of misinterpretation of facts.

  • Past rivalries and vengeance

It has often been observed that reporting a rape case against a man has been used as the most effective method to avenge an old rivalry, blackmail an affluent person or seek revenge for multiple other reasons.

Even if the person filing such a complaint knows that they may not have sufficient evidence to prove it, the damage to the reputation of the accused is often irreparable even after he has been acquitted.

  • Social stigma about love marriages

In a diverse country like ours, there are still certain obscure towns and villages where it is customary that the women are not allowed to choose their own partners as it is considered to bring dishonor to the family or the community that she may belong to.

In such situations, women may find themselves in a position where they choose to accuse their lovers of rape when their relationship is revealed. This is especially true in the case of inter-racial and inter-religious relationships.

In situations like this, sexual relations may even be proved in a court of law. This also results in the men getting falsely implicated or having an emotional breakdown along with their reputation being tarnished beyond repair.

In situations like these, women are also found suffering from depression and guilt for ruining the lives of the accused to save their honour in the society.

  • Marital rape

It has been brought up time and again that marital rape hasn’t been included in the anti-rape laws in India. Therefore, the only remedy available to a woman that has been raped by her husband is to file for either a divorce or domestic violence or both.

Sometimes, when women have been subjected to marital rape for a long period of time but aren’t able to avail the justice that an unmarried rape victim would get, they resort to asking other women to make false accusations against their husbands to avenge the ill treatment that has been caused to them. Whether these cases are wrongful or not is a matter of perspective.

  • Sree Kumar Vs Pearly Karun[2]

Consent is implied when a woman marries a man.

In this matter, the High court observed that when a wife is does not live separately from her husband even when a decree of separation has been granted to them, even when she has been subjected to sexual intercourse by the husband against her will or without her husband, she cannot attract an offence towards her husband under Section 376A of the Indian Penal Code.

What is the punishment for filing a false complaint of rape?

In a situation where a false complaint has been registered or false evidence has been led to prosecute an innocent person or any such intention exists to accuse an innocent individual Section 182 of the Indian Penal Code can be brought into force.

Under this section, any person who gives false information with the intent to cause any public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person shall be punished with imprisonment of wither description for a term which may extend to six months or fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or with both.

Case Laws

  • Raju Vs State of Madhya Pradesh[3]

Accused should be protected against the possibility of fake implication.

In this case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the testimony of the victim of a rape cannot be automatically presumed to be the truth and observed that the allegations of rape can cause equal distress, humiliation and damage to the accused as it may cause to the victim in such cases.

  • Atender Yadav Vs State of Govt. of NCT of Delhi[4]

Even rape cases that have been reported by minor need tobe carefully examines as children can be easily tutored.

The court observed that cases if falsely implicating the accused of rape are not uncommon even in cases where the victim may be a child as people do persuade gullible and obedient children to make false charges of rape either to take revenge or for wrecking vengeance on the accused.

The Court stated that due observation and care needs to be taken when looking into the facts and circumstances of such cases especially when the accused is the family member of the person who registers such a complaint. In this case, the complaint was registered by the minor daughter against her father who had allegedly raped her.

  • Radhu Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh[5]

The court should bear in mind that false charges of rape are not uncommon.

The Supreme Court in this matter, rightly held that the courts should bear in mind that the false charges of rape are not uncommon. There have been instances where a parent has persuaded a gullible and obedient daughter to make a false rape charge to either take revenge or extort money or even to get rid of any financial liability that they may have.

Whether the case was actually a rape or not differ depending on the facts and circumstances of each case which should be proved in the court beyond any reasonable doubt.

Conclusion

Time and again, there have been instances of falsely accused or implicated people who have been living a miserable life due to charges of sexual assault that have been made against them. In recent times, there have been cases where women have accused their husbands of raping their children which have even led to broken homes.

There have also been instances where women have falsely accused their neighbors, colleagues or other distant relatives or friends of committing sexual offences against them.

The main concern with such an allegation is that the empathy of the court automatically lies with the victim and the accused is considered to be guilty even before the court pronounces its verdict.

Under these circumstances, the court and the media may also sympathize with the alleger which may also have a major impact on a person who has been falsely accused in these cases.

One must realize that while rape is a sensitive offence, it is also an extremely sensitive allegation to be made against a person which as the possibility of ruining his life. Another thing that needs to be observed in such cases is that the court needs to be absolutely unbiased and carefully examine the facts and circumstances in these cases before pronouncing its verdict.

There have been cases where the court has been extremely vigilant in these cases and has found the accused not guilty and awarded compensation in favor of the accused.

Despite this, we cannot ignore the fact that the respect and the repute that the accused may have enjoyed earlier, may continue to be tarnished due to the allegations made against him. Although he may have not been found guilty in the court, he may still be guilty in the eyes of the society and may also suffer irreparable mental trauma and distress.

References

  1. 53.2 per cent rape cases filed between April 2013-July 2014 false, says DCW available at: indiatoday.in (Last visited on 28th July 2021)
  2. Sree Kumar Vs Pearly Karun 1999 (2) ALT Cri 77, II (1999) DMC 174
  3. Raju Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh (2008) 15 SCC 133
  4. Atender Yadav Vs. State of Govt. of NCT of Delhi 2013(4) JCC 2962
  5. Radhu Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh 2007 CriLJ 4704