POTENCY TEST (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     1st June 2024        
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Context: Recently returned from Germany, a political party MP in Bengaluru has been detained by a Special Investigation Team probing sexual assault allegations, potentially subjecting him to various medical tests, including potency assessment.

Potency Test

  • About: It is conducted to examine whether a male has the capacity to develop or maintain a penile erection to be able to perform a sexual act. It is commonly used in legal contexts like sexual assault, divorce proceedings, and paternity disputes.
  • Section 53 of CrPC: It authorizes the use of modern scientific techniques, including potency tests, for investigating sexual offenses.
  • Relevance in Sexual Assault Cases:

o Countering Defence Claims: Potency test reports are presented by the prosecution to counter claims of the accused's incapability for sexual intercourse.

o Potency's Variability: Potency can vary due to physiological and psychological factors, making test results indicative but not definitive.

  • Legal Evolution and Impact:

o Shift in Legal Definition: Pre-2013, rape was narrowly defined, often focusing on peno-vaginal intercourse as the benchmark for determining the severity of the offense.

o Expanded Definition of Rape: Post-2013 amendments to Indian Penal Code (IPC), rape now encompasses a broader range of acts beyond peno-vaginal intercourse, reducing the necessity of potency tests in some cases.

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