Arun Sagar


A criminal trial is constructed around various narratives put forward by the prosecution and by the defence, which then crystallize in the narrative established by the judgment. All these narratives rely on background narrative scripts and cultural assumptions that provide stock character roles and interpretations. This paper examines the High Court's and the Supreme Court's treatment of the high-profile Mahmood Farooqui rape case, as an illustration of how prevalent rape myths inform judicial discourse in rape cases and colour the judicial narrative reconstruction of events. Both appellate Courts operate in the discursive register typically used by the defence in rape trials, where the facts of the case are presented in a manner that portrays the complainant as active and the accused as passive, while also evoking tropes of male rationality and female irrationality in the performance of consent, communication, and desire. These grammatical and rhetorical techniques are employed with respect to the prior interaction between complainant and accused, and to the complainant' post facto conduct. Together, these elements operate to reproduce the mythical constructs of 'real' rape and of the 'bad' rape victim.

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