Reluctance to report a sexual assault to police immediately does not mean the victim is lying, as Indian women would rarely make such false allegations, the Bombay High Court has said, upholding the conviction of four men for gang-rape.
Justice AM Badar earlier this week dismissed the appeals of Dattatraya Korde, Ganesh Pardeshi, Pintu Khoskar and Ganesh Zole, who had challenged a sessions court order of April 2013 sentencing them to 10 years in jail for gang-rape.
They were convicted of gang-raping a woman and thrashing her male friend on March 15, 2012 when the two were returning from Trimbakeshwar in Nashik district.
The convicts claimed that they were framed up as they had seen the victim and her friend in a compromising position and threatened to take them to police for indecent behaviour.
The appeals sought to highlight that while the woman claimed that the incident took place on March 15, she lodged the complaint two days later.
Medical examination had ruled out a rape since there was no injury on the woman's body, the appellants said.
The high court, however, upheld the conviction and sentence, citing a Supreme Court's observation in a past case that "rarely will a girl or woman in India make false allegations of sexual assault".
The victim, who comes from a conservative section of society and who is separated from her husband, must have been afraid of stigma and "reflection on her chastity", Justice Badar said.
"She had fear of being looked down upon by the society including her parents... Being overpowered by a feeling of shame on account of gang-rape, her non-approaching a police station immediately...cannot be said to be abnormal and throwing doubt on her version," the judge said.
Because of her secret excursion with a male friend, she must have felt that she would be branded as promiscuous if the incident came to light, the high court said.
"Minor discrepancies" such as delay in lodging the complaint do not weaken her case, the court said.
The judge also held that a mere absence of injuries do not lead to the conclusion that there was no sexual assault.