Under the proposed PREVENTION OF COMMUNAL AND TARGETED VIOLENCE (ACCESS TO JUSTICE AND REPARATIONS) BILL, 2011, the sole testimony of a victim will be enough to convict a man of sexual assault. From the draft bill:
70. Evidentiary standard for sexual assault.- Upon the sole testimony of the victim of sexual assault, the Designated Judge appointed under this Act may conclude that an offence of sexual assault has been committed by the accused against the said victim.
Provided that in a prosecution for the offence of sexual assault, it shall not be permissible to put questions in the cross-examination of the victim as to his or her general immoral character or to rely on any evidence of such victim’s previous sexual conduct.
The definition of sexual assault includes rape and other acts as given below:
7. Sexual assault.- A person is said to commit sexual assault if he or she commits any of the following acts against a person belonging to a group by virtue of that person’s membership of a group:
(a) against a woman,
(ii) gang rape;
(iii) rape or gang rape as part of or in the course of organised communal and targeted
(b) against any person, without their consent or against their will,
(i) the introduction by a man of his penis or any other body part or an object into vagina, mouth or anus, to any extent;
(ii) causing harm or hurt to reproductive organs or genital organs;
(iii) exposing one’s sexual organs in front of any person;
(iv) sexual contact of any sort, including the performance of sexual acts for any length
(v) removing the persons clothes, partially or fully, or compelling that person to
undress himself or herself, partially or fully, in public view or otherwise, or
parading that person in undressed state in public view or otherwise;
(vi) any other act or conduct that subjects that person to sexual indignity.
Provided that where sexual assault under sub-section (a) or (b) is committed as part of
or in the course of organised communal and targeted violence, it shall not be necessary to prove that the said act was committed against the victim without their consent or against their will.
Nevermind that the sole testimony principle is being discredited by judges because of prosecution and imprisonment of innocent men. Excerpt below:
Noting that the legal principle of reliance on the sole testimony of the victim had become “an easy weapon” to implicate anyone in a case of rape, Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat observed that once a man has been arrested for rape, he was forced to live a life of stigma even after acquittal.
“Their life is no better than the rape victim’s. They are ostracised by the society and nobody helps them lead the life of a normal citizen. They are made to suffer for no fault of theirs,” said the court.
Observing that “the government must frame a comprehensive policy for rehabilitation of such persons so that the future of a responsible and law abiding person, who has been jailed on the false rape charges, is secured… after his acquittal”, the court asked Secretaries of the Home Ministry, the Law Ministry and the Law Commission of India to consider the suggestion for the Rehabilitation Policy.
So what will be the effects of this proposed bill if passed into a law? More justice for women, or more false cases against men?