January 19th, 2017
While on the one hand, we are trying to bring justice to the victims of sexual assaults, there are others who are misusing the provisions of the law. Many instances of false cases filed for molestation and sexual harassment have come to the fore. These false cases not only put an innocent person behind bars, but also cause immense mental, emotional, and psychological harm.
The recent incident is a testament to the flaws in laws and order of the country.
In November 2008, Sunanda Kurhade (in her 30s), the deputy of the director in the agriculture department filed a lawsuit of molestation against the Director of Agriculture Department Digambar Gaikwad (57). She stated that Mr Gaikwad molested her while they were travelling together in an official car on November 5, 2008.
On 10 November, Sunanda filed an internal complaint with the commissioner of the department, and on November 19, she lodged an FIR with the cops.
Court hearings and internal inquiry
Gaikwad was shocked when he was arrested the day after the FIR was lodged. He was released on bail after a while. Upset with the ongoings, he contemplated voluntary retirement and left his Pune house and moved to his wife’s village. He pleaded innocence and clarified that Sunanda eyed the same post he had.
After many internal inquiries and regular appearance in court, the additional chief judicial magistrate V K Kadam acquitted him in April 2010. He inferred that the complainant implicated the accused in a false case to get an appointment for the post of coordinator. Not satisfied with the developments in the case, Sunanda approached Bombay High Court but in vain. She filed a special leave petition in Supreme Court of India which was dismissed in 2014 clarifying that Gaikwad was innocent and had been falsely implicated.
Gaikwad was found guilty in the internal inquiries, but he challenged those reports before the governor and proved his innocence. A revelation was made that the driver of the official vehicle in which the alleged incident took place was never interrogated in the internal inquiry.
Defamation case against Sunanda Kurhade
After clearing his name at all levels, Gaikwad filed a defamation case against Kurhade in Pune’s Small Causes Court in June 2012. Also, He sought Rs 60 lakh from her – Rs 10 lakh for maligning his image and Rs 50 lakh which he claimed he would have earned had he continued the coordinator’s job.
On 6 January 2017, Magistrate CP Jain ordered Sunanda to pay the Rs 10 lakh to Digambar Gaikwad within two months. On failure to pay the amount, Sunanda would have to pay six percent per annum interest on the amount till the amount is realised.
Digambar Gaikwad finally breathes a sigh of relief though he is yet to receive the money. He became a full-time farmer on a land owned by his wife in Dehu village, 30 km from Pune.
“For years I couldn’t sleep properly. Everyone knew that the complaint was false, but only a few stood beside me. I was caught between the courts in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi and trips to the department. It took a lot for me to prove my innocence and I had made up my mind that I won’t ever give up.” says Gaikwad, as reported by The Times of India.
He stated that he decided that once he gets a clean chit by the High Court, he will sue his former colleague who he treated like his daughter.
A dent on the reputation
Digambar says that his reputation has been dented. “From being a deputy director in the agriculture department with no single blot on my 35-year career, I had become a monster who had molested a lady much younger to him. My close associates and friends left me. Luckily, my wife and kids stood by me, and now I feel better. The outcome of the case is a lesson for all people who file a false case.” he concluded, as reported by The Times Of India.
DCW on false cases
Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) revealed statistics stating that 53.2% of the cases filed between April 2013 and July 2014 in Delhi were false. As per the reports, between the time mentioned above, of the 2,753 complaints of rape, only 1,287 cases were found to be genuine, and 1,464 were false, as reported by India Today.
False cases undermine the seriousness of genuine cases. Not only do such cases make it difficult for victims in real cases, but they also waste judicial and police time. The time spent on validating these cases could be used to provide justice for other people.
The courts should also give out strict punishments to people who lodge such complaints to deter further such cases.