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On September 25, 2017, the Delhi High Court acquitted Mahmood Farooqui, the director of Pipli Live, of the charges of sexual assault against a US-based researcher. Farooqui was convicted and sentenced to seven years by a special fast-track court last year in what was claimed to be the first rape case that recognized forced oral sex. However, on Monday, the Delhi High Court judge Justice Ashutosh Kumar set aside the trial court order providing him with the benefit of the doubt.

The judge said, “Consent does not merely mean hesitation or reluctance or a ‘no’ to any sexual advances, but has to be an affirmative one in clear terms”. He also claimed that in such cases, it would be really difficult to decipher whether little or no resistance and a feeble ‘no’ was actually a denial of consent.

It is depressing to see that the honourable high court has passed a judgment which undermines the fundamental right of Freedom of Choice and Expression provided under Article 19 of the Indian constitution to every citizen of India. In case of women, this right also includes freedom of consent. Consent also means exercising free choice in making one’s decisions related to sexual preferences India already has a high number of rape cases which mostly go unreported. Also, the judiciary has constantly failed to provide justice to the victims of sexual harassment.

It is in this light that such judgments are detrimental and may be misquoted by other lawyers to defend the perpetrators of sexual offences in future. It must be ensured that the authority of consent rests with the woman and a no is always a no. A no cannot be measured in terms of degree of denial but has to be seen in terms of its essence.

Therefore we, the Gender Champion Society of Motilal Nehru College (Evening) start this petition asking the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India to

  • ·        File a petition challenging this judgment in the Supreme Court of India. The verdict should be debated and discussed in details in the upcoming parliamentary session as well.
  • ·        Incorporate suggestions from the National Women’s Commission.
  • ·        Frame clear guidelines regarding the notion of ‘consent’ in the legal discourse and make amendments to the sexual offence related acts accordingly. There’s a need to revisit the Justice Verma Committee report related to sexual offences in India in this particular context.
  • ·        Ensure justice to the victims of sexual offences.

The hashtag #AFeebleNoIsANo may be used to support the campaign.

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