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A silent protest is being held today as part of the “Men Too movement”, in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations recently levelled against Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
A brief statement circulated online and signed off by Bar Council of India (BCI) Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra called on lawyers to support the silent protest at India Gate. It states,
“The Common Lawyers who have trust in the Institution should support the men too movement and should assemble at India Gate today at 4pm to show their solidarity with the C.J.I. Mr. Ranjan Gogoi.“
Last week, the BCI Chairman had also issued a statement expressing his support for CJI Gogoi, in the face of mounting criticism against the clean chit given by the in-house inquiry committee with respect to the sexual harassment allegations levelled against him.
Amidst questioning the complainant’s motives and lauding the inquiry committee’s verdict in the matter as “totally just and proper“, Mishra had also called for amending laws concerning sexual offences. This included recommending changes to the rape law under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the offence of outraging the modesty of women under Section 354, IPC.
The BCI statement also urged that statements by the prosecutrix in sexual offences should be viewed with more caution to avoid malicious cases. In this regard, the open letter stated,
“The oral testimony of the prosecutrix is enough to convict under Section 354 and 376 IPC”, Why? We are not in 18th century, that no one can presume that a female will never make such allegations to falsely implicate her enemies. We have great respect for our women. But time has changed, we must keep it mind.”
The letter goes on to emphasise that when the law is applied properly, “we found 90% (of sexual offence) cases are resulting in acquittals”. However, since the “settled principals of Evidence Act (sic)” is kept in “waste paper boxes”, false implications are on the rise, states the letter.
The BCI had also called for imposing a limitation period to report on sexual offences, arguing that a delay in reporting such cases “normally very much proves and establishes that the so-called prosecutrix was/is either a liar or was a consenting party.”
In view of these observations, the letter goes on to state that the Bar is hopeful that the judges will “realise the problems” and the “mental and physical agony and harassments of the common men.”