MOVIE REVIEW OF SECTION 375
Author: Vishal Kumar Jha, pursuing B.A.,LL.B. from Manipal University Jaipur
Celebrity Rohan Ravi Khurana was held guilty by session court for the rape of his assistant costume designer Anjali Dangle. After an appeal in High Court, an expert criminal advocate, Mr. Tarun Saluja took the case leaving no stone unturned while defending his client. On the other hand, Hiral Gandhi, who had previously worked under defence counsel, was the public prosecutor in the case. Tarun Salujaperceives the law as fact and Justice as abstract. He is of the view thata lawyer should not get emotionally involved in the case. For him,a race for justice is but a career opportunity for law persons.Because of this mentality of Tarun, Hiral left his chamber. In cross-examination, Tarun debunkedthe lacunae in the case. Tarun explained the probable happenings. According to him, Anjali, even after knowing Rohan's marital status, was in a consensual relationship with Rohan Ravi Khurana. When she realized that Rohan had no interest in her other than fulfilling his physical needs, she fought him, after which, Rohan kicked her out of his house. Later, She apologized and resumed her physical relationship with Rohan, To take her revenge. Subsequently,she filed a case against Rohan under section 375 of IPC.
The judges while hearing the case were in a dilemma, as they doubted the merits of the case, but due to public pressure, they could not afford to dismiss the case. Also, deciding against the respondent would have affected their career. Thus, using the literal rule of interpretation, the High Court upheld the judgment of the session court. However, it acknowledged the merits of Tarun’s arguments. Tarun then try to assure Rohan that he would go for an appeal. After Rohan left for prison, Anjali confessed to Hiral about the truth, accepting that whatever was argued by Tarun was true. Shocked by this, Hiral went to Tarun’s house for the and night dinner and there she accepted that it’s business of law and not of justice.
Rohan Khurana was arrested after an FIR filed by Anjali for an alleged rape under section 375 of IPC. Due to the absence of a female doctor, the male doctor did the medical examination of the victim. This was uncomfortable for Anjali.In the examination, it was seemed to be felt by the doctor, that the victim’s statement was not genuine as she had ambiguity in her statements.Meanwhile, the accused tried to use his influence against his examination. After the spreading of news in the media, people started agitation and started pressurizing the court to convict the accused. In the next scene, the accused in the case of Rohan Ravi Khurana v. the State of Maharashtrawas held guilty in the session court under section 375, 376, 340, 342, 354, and 506 of IPC, by virtue of section 114A of the Indian Evidence Act. After analysing the case, Tarun was very curious about the case as though the DNA report confirmed the intercourse, Rohan was still saying that “He did not even touch her.” Later, Rohan confessed to Tarun that, “he had consensual intercourse with Anjali”. Subsequently, Tarun took his case and appealed in the High Court. In her opening statement, Mrs. Hiral Gandhi tried to give an emotional touch to the case. The judges, while denying the acquittal of the accused, ignored the precedents. They also ignored the fact that the chain of custody was compromised. Indeed, they denied bail to the accused. Tarun successfully explained the difference between morality and legality by distinguishing between an immoral person and a criminal person. He argued that “Rohan, though did an immoral act by violating her mind and her dignity, had not violated her body.” He argued that “this case is not about the rape of Anjali, but her revenge.” In the final statement, Tarun tried to debunk the myth of the “so-called privilege” of Rohan Khurana and made a satire on media by saying that,“Rohan was already convicted by honourable media court or people’s court of Facebook or twitter High court of India.” He requested that, “due to a lack of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the accused should be acquitted.” Due to the pressureof public sentiment, and even after doubting the merit of the case, the judges upheld the judgment of the session court. In the ending, a pessimistic scene is shown, in which Anjali confessedthe fact that she took her revenge.
Legal aspects in the case
The charges imposed were sections 375, 376, 340, 342, 354, and 506 of the IPC. Section 375 defines“Rape” while section 376 provides punishment for it, according to which: “a rapist under subsection 1 shall be punished with rigorous life imprisonment of not less than 7 years which may extend to life imprisonment, and also liable for fine but under subsection 2 he shall be liable with rigorous imprisonment of not less than 10 years which may extend to life imprisonment, and shall also be liable for fine.”Besides, sections 340 and 342 of IPCare about “Wrongful confinement” and its punishmentrespectively.Section 354 and 506 of IPC talk about “Sexual assault” and “Criminal Intimidation” respectively.Further, the concerned case qualifies clause (f) and (k) of sub-section 2 of section 376 which talks about such rape cases, where the accused to the concerned victim is ina relationship of trust or in commanding authority, etc. For evidence, these sections were read with section 114A of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872. According to it: “for the prosecution of rape under aforementioned clauses, where the intercourse is proved and the victim has testified her unwillingness, the court shall presume that the intercourse was against the consent of the victim.Generally, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution, but this provision under 114A of the evidence act is an exception to that generality. According to experts of the law, this provision is the contravention of one of the “principles of natural justice” i.e., Audi alteram partem, which means that both sides must be heard).
The case in session court starts with these words of the session judge: “to initiate a case of rape and impose conviction on accused, the testimony, oral evidence or the statement of victim is enough and the actual test is whether such statement inspires the confidence of the court. This legal principle is not mentioned anywherebut is based on precedents given by the court.[i]The movie while showing the proceeding of the High Courtprovides general lawful information that according to present guidelines, only lady police can register an FIR in the cases of sexual assault and rape. The movie also informs about section 166A of CrPC according to which, the police are legally bound to register an FIR. We also get to know about section 193 of IPC which provides for punishment against producing false evidence in the court of law.
Moral Aspects in the movie
The movie is full of scenes showing the dilemma between legality and morality. Initially, Rohan was convicted by a session judge without even being given an opportunity to be heard and mere statement of the victim was taken as fact without any substantial proof for the same. This judgment was immoral because it is our moral duty, that one must not judge anyone without allowing him an opportunity to defend himself.One notable scene was when Tarun was talking to her wife and his wife did not want him to defend a convicted rapist. Tarun successfully pointed that,“even a convicted rapist has constitutional as well as natural rights.” Besides,he highlighted that, “ had there no law and order, there would have been a state of anarchy.” This scene highlights the constitutional morality in which each individual has their basic rights. Also, there is a scene in which it is seen that people are enraged against the accused. Though this rage is very crucial for motivating the other victims of rape or sexual harassment to come forward and fight for justice, it also shows an immoral act, as they are agitating against a person, whose case is yet to be decided by the final authority. There might be a chance of his acquittal. Hence, this is a moral duty of the people to acknowledge the fact that, “a person is innocent until proven guilty.” According to my understanding, the whole movie was nothing but a moral question that whether Rohan’s act was illegal or immoral. He hadn’t done an illegal act, as the sexual intercourse was done with the consent of Anjali. But still, it can be said that he was not a good guy. He was immoral on the point of violating the mind, spirit, and dignity of Anjali. He instilled confidence in an underprivileged girl by showing her dreams and then suddenly, he stripped back everything from her. One can also argue that by filling the false case, just for taking her revenge, Anjali too did an immoral act. For me, whatever Rohan did might be more than rape but it was not rape.
There was a scene in the movie in which, the male doctor took the medical examination of Anjali in the absence of the lady doctor, and we can see her reluctance in providing information as she was uncomfortable before the male doctor. This shows lacunae in the law, as even after so many reforms in the sexual harassment and rape laws, no provision mandates the medical examination by the lady doctor. In another scene, Tarun’s conversation with his assistants regarding the “likely bench” shows, that many times the judges, because of their ideologies and personal opinion, are prejudiced towards the case and which as a result affects the ratio decidendi of the case. Indeed, the rejection of the bail plea of Rohanshows, that many times the ego of judges acts as a hindrance to the pursuit of justice. In the author’s opinion, judges should stick to the law and their ideology shouldn’t affect the judgments. While the case was under trial, there was a scene in which media persons are asking ridiculous questionsto Tarun about why is he defending a rapist.This, in the author’s opinion, shows the insensitiveness of media in complying with the laws. In another scene, Hiral Gandhi talks with policemen about their irresponsible approach. According to the author, such behaviour of police is one of the main reasons for the under-reporting of rape cases. There is another revealing scene, where the cross-examination of the victim's brotherreveals the cheap mentality of the people of typical Indian society in which only women are blamed. All these scenes in the movie show the genuine hurdle in the victims' race to justice. In concluding remarks, the author expects the authorities to recognize such hurled and lacunae and to form a comprehensive policyso that such rapes and sexual harassment will cease to exist.