Sex Workers Can’t Press Rape Charges If Denied Money: SC

Sex Workers Can’t Press Rape Charges If Denied Money: SC

New Delhi: Acquitting three persons of rape charges, the Supreme Court has ruled that a sex worker cannot lodge a sexual assault complaint against her customers if they refuse to pay.

A bench of Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amitava Roy said that though the evidence given by a woman alleging rape must get importance from the trial court, but it could not be taken as “gospel truth”.

“The evidence of prosecutrix must be examined as that of an injured witness whose presence at the spot is probable but it can never be presumed that her statement should always, without exception, be taken as gospel truth,” the bench said.

The ruling came in a 20-year-old case from Bengaluru. A woman, working as a maid, had alleged that three persons abducted her in an auto, took her to a garage and repeatedly raped her.

The three accused had challenged a Karnataka high court order directing their prosecution. The SC bench examined the witness all over again and said, “Her conduct during the alleged ordeal is also unlike a victim of rape and betrays somewhat submissive and consensual disposition.”

In her statement to the trial court, the woman had said that after the three accused dumped her, she went back to locate the garage where she was raped before lodging the complaint so as to enable her to give proper evidence about the crime.

The woman’s roommate, however, spilled the beans while deposing as a witness. She said the woman used to take financial help from the accused persons and, after completing her household work, used to indulge in prostitution at night. The roommate further told the court that the woman had approached the accused persons for Rs 1,000 which they declined to give.

When asked why she had lodged the complaint against the accused persons, the woman had said that it would have compelled them to pay the money she wanted.

The bench said, “This witness’s version is plausible, and thus, fits in with the defence plea to demolish the prosecution case.” Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Roy said, “Her vengeful attitude in the facts and circumstances, as disclosed by her, if true, demonstrably evinces a conduct manifested by a feeling of frustration stoked by an intense feeling of deprivation of something expected, desired or promised.”

Acquitting the three accused, Justices Ghose and Roy drew the conclusion, “We are of the unhesitant opinion that the prosecution has failed to prove the charge against the appellants to the hilt as obligated in law and thus, they are entitled to benefit of doubt.”