CASE ANALYSIS: MATHURA RAPE CASE
Statues/ constitution involved-
- Indian penal code,1860:
- The constitution of India:
- Evidence Act
Important section/ articles-
- §375, §376 of Indian penal code, 1860
- §114(A) of Evidence Act
This case brings forth the facts of a rape case in Maharashtra with a poor orphan girl. This analysis aims at stating the facts in a core shell and the issues raised, also the arguments of both sides are summarized below. The case highlights the violence against women in India in the public domain and finally, the main point of discussion will be how this particular case brought about legal reforms in India. Rape is a sexual assault that involves
but not limited to sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual penetration without the consent of the person or against the will of the person.
The infamous Tukaram and anr. Vs State of Maharashtra is also well known as the Mathura rape case in India. It was an incident of custodial rape in India on 26 March 1972, wherein Mathura, a young tribal girl, was allegedly raped by two policemen on the compound of Desaiganj Police Station in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra. After the Supreme Court acquitted the accused, there was public outcry and protests, which eventually led to amendments in the Indian Rape Law via The criminal law Amendment Act, 1983.
Background of case:
The victim was an orphan girl living with her brother Gama. She belonged to the Adivasi community and worked as a household helper at Nunshi’s place where she fell in love with nunshi’s sister’s son Ashok. They both planned to run away and get married. When the victim’s brother found her missing, he lodged a complaint against Ashok and his family for kidnapping his sister.
Facts of case:
A report was lodged in the police station by the brother of the victim who was termed to be kidnapped by the person she was in love with. All the concerned persons were called to the police station at the night when they were about to leave, accused through the entrance gate of the police station caught hold of her. He took her to the backside of the police station on the roof, where he forced himself on her and raped her. On medical examination, no fresh ruptures were found. Also, no semen was found on her pubic hair. However, semen was found on her clothes. The session court acquitted the appellants (both the constables Ganpat and Tukaram) whereas the high court reversed the order. In the session court, it was stated that the Girl was ‘habitual to sexual intercourse’ and this was a case of passive submission, but the high court delivered that passive submission was due to threat and the consent wasn’t free.
Whether the intercourse was a “passive submission”?
Whether the girl was put under threat to obtain Consent?
IPC section 375-
Rape- A man is said to commit “rape” who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions:
- Firstly-Against her will
- Secondly-Without her consent.
- Thirdly– With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt.
- Fourthly– With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.
- Fifthly- With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.
- Sixthly– With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age.
Explanation- Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape.
Section 376 of IPC
Punishment for rape.—(1) Whoever, except in the cases provided for in subsection (2), commits rape, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment of either description for a term which1 [shall not be less than ten years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and
shall also be liable to fine.
(a) being a police officer commits rape—
(i) within the limits of the police station to which such police officer is appointed; or
(ii) in the premises of any station house; or
(iii) on a woman in such police officer’s custody or in the custody of a police officer
subordinate to such police officer; or
(b) being a public servant commits rape on a woman in such public servant’s custody or in the custody of a public servant subordinate to such public servant; shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, and shall also be liable to fine.
- The session court acquitted both the accused, the judges stated that the girl was ‘habitual to sexual intercourse’ and this was a case of passive submission. She herself invited Ganpat to have sexual intercourse. According to Section 375(6) of the Indian Penal Code, sex with a woman underneath the age of 16 whether with or without her assent qualifies as assault. Even after Dr Shastrakar introduced proof that Mathura was between the ages of 14-16, the Sessions Judge held that the proof deciding Mathura’s age was lacking.
- The Bombay high court delivered that passive submission was due to threat and the consent wasn’t free, as the policemen were in a dominant position and any protection from them could demonstrate unfavourable to her or to her brother. The court also held that the absence of semen could be demonstrated by the fact that she was examined 20 hours after the incident and it is probably for her to have cleaned in meanwhile. The
high court also expressed that both the men were extreme strangers to Mathura and it is not likely that she would approach them to fulfill her sexual desires. The court held the accused under section 375 of IPC.
- The supreme court overturned the judgement of the high court and termed it consensual intercourse. Firstly, the medical reports showed no marks of injury on her, she might have felt helpless in front of two policemen but if she had resisted some marks of injury would have been made. Secondly, she didn’t call for help and there was no evidence that she was tied, although her companions have gathered people and called for help, she didn’t show up for help. Mathura was habitual to intercourse and didn’t want to let go of any chance to have intercourse regardless of the fact that her brother and her beloved Ashok was waiting for her outside the police station. She didn’t want her companions to lose faith in her, hence she termed it as forceful intercourse. The supreme court acquitted both the accused stating that it was a “peaceful affair”.
After this verdict was pronounced, there were protests across the nation and many women’s protection organizations came into being. One of the major groups were Saheli in Delhi, and prior to that in January 1980, Lotika Sarkar was also involved in the formation of the first feminist group in India against rape, “Forum Against Rape”, later renamed ” Forum Against Oppression of Women” (FAOW). A national conference was organized by FAOW which started the debate for legal reforms that highlighted the issues of violence against women and the difficulty of seeking judicial help in sexual crimes in India. Eventually, this led to the Government of India, amending the rape law.
Legal Reforms: The Criminal Law (2nd Amendment) Act , 1983-
- This amendment Act made a statutory provision in the face of Section 114(A) of the Evidence Act, made 25 December 1983, which states that if the victim says that she did not consent to the sexual intercourse, the Court shall presume that she did not consent.
- Section 376 “Punishment of Rape under Indian Penal Code” underwent a change with the enactment and addition of Section 376(A), Section 376(B), Section 376(C), Section 376(D) IPC, which made custodial rape punishable, which were further amended in 2013 after Nirbhaya Rape Case.
- Besides defining custodial rape, the amendment shifted the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused once intercourse was established; it also added provisions for in-camera trials, the prohibition on the victim identity disclosure and tougher sentences.
The case is seen as a turning point in the women’s right commission in India. Despite the fact that rape laws in India have been transformed from time to time, the events of rape continue expanding each year. Other than making enormous physical injury to the person in question, this wrongdoing has pulverising mental impacts also, for example, depression, flashbacks, sleeping disorders and more. One step towards the end of
this wrongdoing is to improve well-being and security for women in the State. More than severe laws to punish the miscreants, it is the disposition and mindset of men, similar to the Supreme Court Judges in the Mathura Rape Case that requires reformation.