Women are usually the victims of rape but can a woman be booked in a rape case? The Supreme Court has agreed to examine this question after a woman petitioned it for anticipatory bail in a rape case also involving her son.
The apex court has asked the Punjab government to respond to the plea filed by a 61-year-old woman who has been implicated in the case filed by her daughter-in-law.
While agreeing to examine the issue, a bench of Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Sanjay Karol granted the woman protection from arrest and directed her to cooperate with the investigation.
“Issue notice, returnable in four weeks. In the meantime, the petitioner is protected from arrest. But she is expected to cooperate with the investigation of the crime,” the bench said.
At the outset, advocate Rishi Malhotra, who appeared for the woman, argued that all other penal sections in the FIR are bailable barring the charge under Section 376(2)(n) IPC (repeated rape). Conviction under the section entails imprisonment of not less than 10 years and may extend to sentence for life.
Referring to an apex court judgement, Malhotra submitted a woman cannot be charged with rape.
According to the case, the complainant was initially in a long-distance relationship with the US-based elder son of the woman, a widow, but they had never met in person.
The FIR states that the complainant started living with the widow after entering into wedlock with her son at a virtual marriage ceremony.
Later, the younger son of the widow visited them from Portugal. The widow has claimed that after the arrival of her younger son the complainant and her family pressured her to end the informal marriage with her elder son. When the younger son was about to leave for Portugal, the complainant insisted that he take her along but he left alone.
As tension mounted between the two families, a compromise was arrived at and the widow gave the complainant Rs 11 lakh for ending the marriage with her elder son.
The complainant then approached the local police and lodged an FIR against the widow and her younger son, accusing them of rape and other charges.