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HC exonerates Peepli Live's co-director in rape case

Ashish Tripathi, DH News Service, Sep 25 2017, 17:29 IST
The High Court, in its 85-page judgement, directed that Farooqui, who is presently in jail, be released forthwith. PTI File Photo

The High Court, in its 85-page judgement, directed that Farooqui, who is presently in jail, be released forthwith. PTI File Photo

The Delhi High Court on Monday allowed popular Hindi film Peepli Live's co-director Mahmood Farooqui to walk free from the charges of raping a US research scholar.

The court cast its doubt over the incident and concluded that it was not clear if there was a consent of the victim and if Farooqui was able to understand it.

It set aside a trial court's judgement that awarded him a seven year jail term for sexually abusing the research scholar from Columbia University.

Justice Ashutosh Kumar exonerated 45-year-old Farooqui by granting him benefit of doubt for the incident that was alleged to have taken place at his South Delhi flat on March 28, 2015.

After analysing the facts of the case, the single-judge bench said, “It remains in doubt as to whether such an incident, as has been narrated by the prosecutrix (victim), took place and if at all it had taken place, it was without the consent/will of the prosecutrix and if it was without the consent of the prosecutrix, whether the appellant could discern/understand the same.”

30-year-old victim's counsel Vrinda Grover questioned Farooqui's plea that the act was “consensual”. She submitted such an argument was never raised before the trial court, so it cannot now be raised in hearing the appeal.

“If it appears that some circumstance could be gleaned from such already collected evidence, which enures to the benefit of the accused, the same cannot be brushed aside on the slender ground that such plea was not taken before the trial court,” the bench said.

The victim, who had come to India in June, 2014, was introduced to Farooqui for helping her in research purpose in Hindi Literature. On March 28, 2015, she alleged that Farooqui, in an inebriated state, forced himself upon her and committed rape.

Although the HC said the victim can of course be called a sterling witness but it has to be examined if her allgations that the act was without her consent and she was sexually abused were true.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who represented Farooqui, pointed out various circumstances which led Farooqui to believe that there was consent.. Unable to cope with the emotional and mental trauma, the victim has gone back to the USA, she returned back over two months after to lodge an FIR on June 19, 2015.

“The WhatsApp communication between the prosecutrix and the appellant on 30.03.2015 signifies that what happened in the night of 28.03.2015 was not acceptable to her...This obviously means that there were some earlier encounters which may not have been of such intensity or passion but physical contact in some measure was accepted,” the court noted.

Going though the facts of the case, the court said, “There is no communication regarding a fear in the mind of the prosecutrix to the appellant. The prosecutrix makes a mental move of feigning orgasm so as to end the ordeal. What the appellant has been communicated is, even though wrongly and mistakenly, that the prosecutrix is okay with it and has participated in the act.”

“The appellant had no opportunity to know that there was an element of fear in the mind of the prosecutrix forcing her to go along. After completing the act, the appellant asks the prosecutrix that he wishes to do it again,” the court added.

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