Indian Legal System Puts Men in a Fix

The legal system in India resembles many other common law systems based on legislation, historical customs and precedents set-forth by prior courts.  The country’s Constitution provides the final word on India law and governing, which is administered by a court system broken into various “levels”

India’s courts are historically inefficient, with significant backlogs present within most levels of the legal system.  As a result of extended backlogs, public sentiment toward India’s court system is low, with some calling for formal reform.  To detractors, the right to justice stands as a fundamental principle, so they believe the burden is upon the state to deal with the slow-to-justice issue, by providing infrastructure adequate to handle the flow of the judiciary.  It is currently estimated that there are approximately 14 judges employed for each million citizens in India.

The courts are also notoriously corrupt, with noted cases of bribery, influence peddling and other indiscretions on record.  So where does these leave Indian citizens accused of crimes?  The answer is a mixed bag, depending on the type of crime suspected, and the sex of the alleged offender.

Men at a Disadvantage

A strong case can be made that the Indian courts are still not set up to give men equal consideration; especially relating to claims of sexual assault.  On the other hand, the issue of false rape claims appears to have gotten the attention of India’s high courts; with recent opinions acknowledging how devastating a false sexual assault claim can be for an innocent man.

Famously, some Indian rulings include jail sentences for men who had consensual relations with women, only to be later charged with crimes for leading the women to believe they intended to marry them. In one case, a man received a seven-year sentence for a false promise leading to sex.  The justification for the rulings is that consent doesn’t really exist when it comes as a result of false pretenses.

One study identified approximately 18% of rape accusations occurring in and around New Delhi to be false.  That means nearly one in five men accused of rape in India suffer humiliation, loss of employment mobility, social stigmas and other adverse impacts – as a result of fabricated accusations.  The number is too high, and it appears as though the court’s disparaging bias against men has finally made its way to the national conversation.

The New Delhi High Court recently supported the notion that false rape claims can be difficult to overcome and called for protecting the accused.  According to the court, men accused of sexual assault deserve the benefit of the doubt, until proven guilty.  Unfortunately the stigma and life-changing impacts are already on-board by the time an innocent man is acquitted, so defeating a false rape claim does not repair the damage.  Further underscoring the issue is a trend among hired help to file false sexual abuse claims against their employers. To defeat the problem, India courts are charging false accusers and must rely more heavily on physical evidence, rather than accepting rape claims as credible without corroboration. In one high-profile case a false accuser received a four-year prison sentence for filing false rape charges against a man who later committed suicide, rather than face the consequences for a crime he didn’t commit.

While India’s judicial system appears to be paying more attention to the rights of accused men than it did in the past, there are still great strides to be made protecting men’s rights.  Until a formal mechanism is established to rehabilitate men falsely accused of sexual assault, the court system will continue to mete out justice with bias against men.


Daphne Holmes contributed this guest post. She is a writer from Arrest and you can reach her at


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