New Delhi, Jan. 11: The Supreme Court today sought the response of the Union government and the National Commission for Women on a PIL questioning the validity of the “two finger test” used to verify a rape victim’s claim.
The PIL was filed by advocate Ankita Chaudhary and a fourth year student of National Law University, Delhi, Nipun Saxena, in the wake of the December 16 gang rape of a 23-year-old on a moving bus in the capital.
As part of the “two-finger test”, doctors examining a rape victim insert two fingers in the private parts to check for virginity.
Appearing before a bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra, Ankita submitted that the test is “against the dignity of rape victim”. She urged court to direct the Centre “to ascertain the feasibility” of such tests and instead come out with alternative measures.
The petition said that in judgments in the past, the apex court had held that right to a dignified life is inherent to the right to life enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution.
“Heinous offences such as rape are an egregious violation of this right to life. It is therefore essential that there are additional safeguards to ensure that the sufferers of such traumatic offence are not subjected to post-traumatic mental agony,” the petition said.
“It destroys the entire psychology of a woman and pushes her into deep emotional crises. It is only by her sheer will power that she rehabilitates herself in the society which, on coming to know of the rape, looks down upon her in derision and contempt. Rape is, therefore, the most hated crime. It is a crime against basic human rights and is also violative of the victim’s most cherished of the Fundamental Rights, namely, the right to life contained in Article 21.”
The PIL also called for a formal compensatory mechanism for victims called the “Criminal Injuries Compensation Board” to provide “instantaneous and expeditious monetary relief” to victims of offences such as rape.
The petitioners urged the court to direct the secretary of the State Transport Authority and the commissioner of Delhi police to cancel the licence of anyone who violates the Motor Vehicles Act especially in view of the recent rise in rapes, and to conduct immediate inquiry into the antecedents of such drivers/ license holders.
BJP on rape penalty
The BJP has advocated the death sentence for gang rape, custodial rape and rape after abduction.
The proposals were made in a letter sent on Wednesday by party president Nitin Gadkari to the J.S. Verma Commission, set up by the Centre to revisit rape laws in the wake of the Delhi bus rape.
Gadkari suggested that if a rape victim suffers “life-altering” loss — such as irreparable mental and physical damage — the accused deserves the death penalty. The damage could include disability, blinding or paralysis.
But the party has opposed chemical castration.
Gadkari proposed that rape, as defined in the Indian Penal Code, should be redefined as “sexual assault” and various forms of attack such as oral sex should be included. “Unlawful sexual contact” should be recognised as an offence, too.
The BJP chief suggested the qualifying age for a juvenile should be reduced from 18 to 16 years, keeping the Delhi gang rape in mind. The six accused in last month’s Delhi assault include a minor who has claimed he is 17 years six months old.