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PINKI PRAMANIK VS. STATE OF WEST BENGAL

Read the full judgement here
citation:

2014 SCC Online Cal 18832

court:

HIGH COURT AT CALCUTTA

judges:

Justice Subrata Talukdar

KEY FACTS:

This case involved a complaint against Pinki Pramanik, a national-level female athlete by one of her friends who was living with her. Pinki’s friend lived with Pinki because her husband had abandoned her. She had a child as well. Pinki’s friend made this complaint 3 years after she had been living with her.

She alleged that Pinki took advantage of her difficult situation and engaged in physical relations with her. Further, she claimed that she had agreed to live with Pinki because she had promised to marry her. Pinki’s friend filed a complaint of rape, sexual activity under the pretext of marriage, and for inducing a woman into sexual activity on the false belief of being married.

The police arrested Pinki. She underwent multiple medical examinations of her gender. The first few tests were inconclusive. The final test declared that Pinki was a “male pseudo-hermaphrodite” (sic.). It further stated that Pinki suffered from a “disorder of sexual development”. In other words, these tests found that Pinki was an intersex woman who had secondary sexual characteristics of both male and females.

ISSUES & DECISION:

The Court had to decide whether Pinki had and could be considered capable of committing the offence of rape.

It is significant to note that sexual offences in the Indian Penal Code, barring sexual offences against children, are gender-specific, i.e: complaints of sexual offences can only be made against men.

The Court accepted that Pinki was an intersex woman and incapable of performing penetrative sexual activity. Thus, the Court ruled out the possibility of rape.

The Court also considered the nature of consent between Pinki and her friend. Her friend had argued that Pinki had compelled her to have sexual relations with her by making her believe that they were married. However, the Court noted that Pinki’s friend was already married, which meant that Pinki could not have induced the complainant to believe otherwise.

Next, the Court held that Pinki could also not have promised to marry her friend because she was still legally married to her husband. A second marriage could not have been possible.

The Court noted that Pinki’s friend stand was inconsistent: On the one hand, she argued that Pinki had had sexual relations with her after making her believe they were married. On the other hand, she argued that Pinki had sexual relations with her on the false promise to marry her.

Finally, the Court considered the cohabitation between Pinki and her friend. It concluded that they had agreed to live together, with the consent of Pinki’s friend. It noted that this complaint had come three years after cohabitation and Pinki’s friend’s child had peaceful relations with Pinki.

SIGNIFICANCE: 

This case led the Court to consider whether rape allegations can be made against a woman, and deny this possibility. As Pinki Parmanik is a national level athlete, the case received national attention.