Section 114A of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 is a legal provision that pertains to rape cases. This section establishes a presumption as to absence of consent in certain prosecutions for rape. It states that if the prosecution can prove beyond reasonable doubt that sexual intercourse occurred and the victim states in her evidence before the court that she did not consent, then it will be presumed that she did not give her consent.
This provision was added to address the issue of victims being coerced into giving their consent through fear or intimidation, and then later claiming they were raped. The law seeks to protect women from such exploitation by shifting the burden of proof onto the accused and making it more difficult for them to escape punishment.
The relevant sections of law are Section 375(1) (rape), Section 376(2)(a) (sexual assault), and Section 376AB (rape on a woman under twelve years). These sections define what constitutes rape, sexual assault, and aggravated sexual assault respectively.
To understand this provision better, let us take a look at some case laws:
1) In State v. Pawan Kumar [(2017) SCC Online HP 1979], an accused appealed against his conviction for rape on grounds that he had obtained prior consent from his victim. However, since there was no evidence apart from his own claim regarding prior consent given by the victim before having sex with him for which he could establish any credibility or cogency asunder Sec-114A Of IEA.,the Court held him guilty considering it non-consensual act punishable u/s sec-376 IPC..
2) In Wazir Chand v. State of Haryana [(1989) Supp (1) SCC 173], The Supreme Court opined upon relevancy & admissibility as per sec-53/section-54 CrPC ,of medical report about injuries sustained by prosecutrix during time when alleged rape took place. The court held that it was not essential for the prosecution to prove physical resistance of the victim or injuries sustained by the victim in order to establish non-consensual intercourse since Section 114A, Indian Evidence Act was introduced precisely to counter such claims by perpetrators.
3) In State of Rajasthan vs. Om Prakash [(2019)SCC Online SC 494] , a case involving a foreign national woman who was raped while on vacation in India claimed that she had been drugged. Although there was no medical evidence to support her claim about being drugged, given provision under sec-114A IEA.,it will be presumed that if sexual intercourse occurred and the victim states in her evidence before the court that she did not consent then it is deemed as non consensual act.
4) In Satbir Singh v. State of Haryana [(2001) SCC (Cr.) 143], where a young girl aged between thirteen and fourteen years old was allegedly raped, no direct testimony could be presented regarding whether or not she gave consent. However ,since provisions under sec-114A were implemented with Rape law amendment Act-2013 mandating presumption against absence of consent ,the Court convicted accused based on circumstantial evidences..
Now let us consider how this provision is relevant to Non Resident Indians (NRI). NRI’s may often visit India for various reasons wherein they need to interact with locals. Being unaware about customs, beliefs & cultural norms can sometimes lead into committing mistake when dealing with local women which may cause them trouble . If an NRI has been accused of rape in India but claims that he obtained prior consent from his partner before engaging in sexual activity, then Section 114(A), makes his claim void unless sufficient proof is brought forward.. This means that even if a person believes that he/she has received consent from their partner before sexual activity takes place; if later out of remorse or any other reason if the partner claims it non-consensual, it will be treated as non-consensual under this section. This provision is not discriminatory on the basis of gender and can therefore be used by both male and female survivors.
In conclusion, Section 114A of the Indian Evidence Act provides a legal framework for rape trials in India whilst placing greater emphasis on obtaining consent prior to sexual activity. This helps in curbing false claims regarding consent & brings justice to victims who may have been coerced into providing sexual favors against their wishes. For NRI’s, understanding of laws relating to consensual sex is crucial while interacting with locals in order to avoid criminal liabilities that they may face otherwise due to ignorance of local customs & norms.