Rapes have been a cruel reality of our society from a very long time. But what if you get bruises from the hands you thought would protect you? Your psychological trauma is inexplicable at such incidents. And custodial rapes are one such incidents where a women in police custody gets raped by the officials whose duty is to protect her. According to the statistics available, there are 29% cases of custodial rapes and conviction rate is 32%. However it can be firmly believed that these statistics are unbelievable because this crime takes place by the hands of those who are in direct connection with the authoritarian power. Since the culprits are in power, the aspect of undue influence can always be found attached in non-registration of such cases. Also, the places where they take place are government offices and sweeping away the evidences is a chid play. Thus, it can be clearly said that more than half of the incidents of custodial rape must not be registered that could elevate the reality of above-mentioned statics.
Conduction of rape by the power holders has always been in scenes. Ages ago, when wars used to take place, the women of loosing empire were used to be the first target of winners and due to this only the practices like Johar were prevalent. In modern times, the basics of the story remains same but now the thirsty wrong doers are the protection forces of the own empire/nation. Jails, juvenile house, etc are the places where government officials perform such heinous crimes. One such case of custodial rape is Tukaram and another Vs. State of Maharashtra which is commonly known as Mathura rape case. In this, a minor tribal girl was summoned to police station at night regarding a case filed by her family. She was then detained after which two police officials raped her and then let her go. However, the judgements that came out from various courts in this case showcases the ambiguity in our system and patriarchal mindset of justice servers. As this this case, first the sessions court held that there was no evidence to prove that Mathura was below 16 years of age on date of occurrence, thus prosecution failed against appellants. However, when High court convicted the appellants the Supreme court set aside the sentences imposed upon appellants. But at he end, it was only public support that made apex court reopen the case and finally provide fair trial for rape survivor.
Further, the outrages led to the custodial rape labelled as offensive crimes and also led to many legal changes to support the survivors. Earlier the burden of proof to show that rape took place was on survivor. However, an exception to the rule of presumption was introduced in the provisions of Evidence act and burden of proof got shifted to the shoulders of accused. The criminal law amendment act, 1983 made a statutory provision in the face of section 114(A) of the Evidence act which states that if victim says that she didn’t consented to the intercourse then the court shall presume that she consented as a rebuttable presumption. And now the burden of proving the presence of consent goes with accused. Also, early rule of section 197 CPC, before conducting any investigation of any public servant a sanction from central or state authority was required. But Criminal law amendment act, 2013, provided that in cases of public servant being accused of committing custodial rape, no such sanctions is required. Section 166-A was also inculcated in IPC with provision of punishing public servant with rigorous imprisonment and a fine for contravening direction of law regarding conduction of investigation. Also section 376 of IPC that defines rape punishment, underwent a change with enactment and addition of section 376(A), 376(B), 376(C) and 376(D) which made custodial rape too a punishable offence.
Thus, along with stringent law, also the mentality of government officials along with men like that of judges of Mathura rape case that pronounced such patriarchal judgements need to be amended. As there should be no discretion in the law and no mitigating circumstances. The guilty must be culled like high contagion.
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