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While dismissing an appeal filed by an accused in the Shakti Mills gang rape case of 2013, the Bombay High Court asked the Maharashtra government to “take necessary steps to shun all such unscientific and heavily criticized ‘two finger tests’.”

“It appears that the Government of Maharashtra has formulated some guidelines. We expect and hope that the state will strictly adhere to the same,” said justices SS Jadhav and PK Chavan.

WHAT IS TWO-FINGER TEST?

The two-finger test is an intrusive physical examination wherein the doctor inserts two fingers inside the vagina of a rape victim to check if the hymen is intact or not.

In the Shakti Mills case, the survivor was subjected to the two-finger test at JJ Hospital in Mumbai.

Earlier, the sessions judge had noted that the doctors had followed the “degrading and unscientific archaic two-finger test in examination of prosecutrix” even though the Supreme Court had condemned the same.

WHAT IS SHAKTI MILLS CASE?

In 2013, a 19-year-old woman was gang-raped at the abandoned Shakti Mills compound in Mumbai.

The woman, who worked as a telephone operator, had gone by local train to Mahalaxmi temple with her boyfriend. They got off the train and started walking when the girl got injured. The two then sat near the Shakti Mill compound.

They were assaulted there. The perpetrators tied the hands of the man and allegedly took turns to rape the woman. They then threatened the two and left.

The couple, shattered by the events of the evening, left the city and went to Chhattisgarh.

Meanwhile, the woman’s mother had registered a missing complaint. When the two established contact, the survivor returned to Mumbai and cancelled the missing report that was filed about a month earlier. She also told the police the circumstances under which she had left the city.

The police registered a case and recovered her undergarments and bracelet from the spot. The woman was sent for a medical check-up and the doctors concluded she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. They also conducted the two-finger test on her.

HIGH COURT’S JUDGMENT

Mohammad Ashfaq Dawood Shaikh alias Baba, along with others, was convicted in the case by the sessions judge. Shaikh, and four others, were sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted under Sections 377 (unnatural offence), 376D (gang rape), 354B (assault), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 120B (conspiracy). The order was challenged before the High Court in 2015.

The high court observed that from the evidence provided, there was no doubt that the prosecutrix had been subjected to the most humiliating and horrendous form of sexual assault by the five accused.

“It is unfathomable to evaluate and experience the feelings of helplessness and worthlessness of a girl in her late teens who faced such brutal assault, a fact which has already been substantiated by experts in the medical field,” the order stated.

Regarding a delay in lodging of the FIR, the court deduced that since the prosecutrix and her boyfriend were threatened with dire consequences, it was not expected that they would immediately approach the police.

“In view of our tradition-bound non-permissive society where the reputation and honour of the family of a victim of sexual assault is at stake, it is not expected that an immediate report would be lodged,” the order stated.

Having considered the facts and evidence on record, the court was of the firm opinion that the prosecution had proven its case beyond all reasonable doubt.

Noting that the sessions court judgment did not warrant interference in appeal, the high court proceeded to dismiss Shaikh’s appeal and upheld the sessions court’s judgment.

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