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Questions arise about probable misuse of new rape law

Sunday, 17 August 2014 - 5:20am IST | Agency: dna

To the special women's court, which recently granted rape accused IPS officer Sunil Paraskar relief from arrest after going through the email exchanges (between the two) and the manner of interaction of the complainant with Paraskar, the act appeared to be consensual. To the court, it had also appeared that the complainant suspected Paraskar to be in a relation with another model.

After the new (stringent) law on rape was implemented, there has been a substantial rise in the number of rape cases registered, dna, which verified the official data of the Mumbai police, found.

In 2012, 232 rape cases were reported in the city; the number shot up drastically to 391 the next year.

Many incidents similar to the Paraskar case have been reported in the recent past. One was a woman accusing businessman Niranjan Hiranandani's men and a police official of raping her. During the investigation, the police found the woman not being able to corroborate her claims or present the witnesses, who according to her, knew about the incident.

Legal experts claim there is an increase in the number of such rape cases being registered against renowned personalities in the city, who are soft targets. Experts claim women have been misusing the domestic violence Act, and that the new law on rape too was being misused.

Senior advocate Amin Solkar, who spoke to dna, said: "The new law on rape is encouraging women to approach the police and register complaints. However, it appears some of the complainants are misusing the Act to seek vengeance."

Solkar added: "The new (rape) law is a blessing as well as a curse. It does help women who are victims; but at the same time it gives women who seek to take vengeance an advantage. I feel there should be some kind of a rider that would allow the investigating agency to register a case (FIR) only after verifying its authenticity."

According to Solkar, in cases where there is inordinate delay in registering FIR, the police should not base their case only taking into consideration the complainant's version; they should also observe his/her conduct with the accused as well as other people. "Then there would be more clarity and the investigating agency will be able to decide on the authenticity of the case," added Solkar.

Another senior advocate, who didn't want his name revealed, also expressed similar sentiments. "Now a days women are targeting renowned personalities taking advantage of the new law, which gives them the right to directly approach the police and register FIR. They are aware that even if they fail to provide medical evidence, their testimony alone will be enough to convict the man involved. So, I feel the new law has pros and cons which would affect the society at large. A solution has to emerge at some point of time," said the counsel.

Advocate Persis Sidhwa, who is associated with Majlis, an NGO, however, feels the new law empowers women. "It's very difficult for a woman to approach the police and say she has been raped or molested. Hence, I feel the law has enabled women to open up and complain against assaults that they have been subjected to," said advocate Sidhwa.

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