HindustanTimes Tue,23 Dec 2014

Tejpal takes potency test as row erupts over its need

Bhavya Dore, Hindustan Times  Panaji, December 03, 2013
First Published: 00:41 IST(3/12/2013) | Last Updated: 01:40 IST(3/12/2013)

As part of the procedure, journalist Tarun Tejpal, who is facing rape charges, was taken for a potency test in Bambolim on Monday, with lawyers pointing out that this was necessary notwithstanding the peculiarities of this case.

Tejpal has been booked for attempting to rape a junior colleague under the new anti-rape law, which includes finger penetration in the expanded definition of rape.

According to the FIR, relying on an emailed complaint the supposed victim made to the then Tehelka managing editor, Shoma Chaudhury, Tejpal attempted to penetrate her with his fingers.

The law required that anyone booked under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code would be subjected to a potency test, lawyers said.

"This has probably been done to demolish a possible argument of the rape accused at the time of trial that he is impotent; this has been seen to happen in some cases," said Abha Singh, a Mumbai-based lawyer and women's rights activist.

After charges were levelled against him, self-styled godman Asaram had argued that he was impotent and therefore could not have committed rape.

The test is meant to establish if the accused is capable of performing a sexual act, and also involves checking the sperm count.

"The prosecution can build on their case by establishing the presence of sexual desire," said a criminal lawyer.

However, passing the potency test alone doesn't mean much, given the expanded definition of rape. "Strictly speaking, this test is not necessary," said another criminal lawyer.

"Nothing can be concluded from it. Perhaps it is being done to ensure that all procedures are followed, or it is just a way of playing mind games with him. It could also simply be a part of the police strategy or even to humiliate him."

Others rubbished the need for a potency test, saying there was no direct connection between rape and potency.

"Does the new rape law really mandate anything as stupid as a 'sexual potency test'? Rape has nothing to do with potency," tweeted Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association.

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