Bombay High Court in its recent order stated that formula of how woman will react to outrage by a man cannot be anticipated. Justice Bharti Dangre elaborated on the same while granting bail to a 24-year-old accused in a 2019 rape and molestation case.
On July 21, Justice Dangre, cited the below while granting bail to the mechanical engineering graduate who had spent seven months in jail. She said,
There cannot be a straight-jacket formula as to how a woman would react to an act of outrage by a man.
In November 2019, a case was registered in Pune, where a 25-year-old woman alleged that she was raped and molested by the accused on October 28, 2019, at Aamby Valley in Lonavala.
According to the woman, she had gone along with her friends to the hill station to celebrate Diwali. She also claimed to be well acquainted with the accused for the last eight years. According to her statement, she was raped and molested there, and after returning home from her trip, she shared the incident with her mother.
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Later, the mother-daughter duo filed a complaint at a local police station in Pune, and subsequently, an FIR was registered on November 8 last year and the boy was arrested in December.
The case took a different turn when Advocate Abhinav Chandrachud representing the accused man argued for bail suggesting there had been an unexplained delay in registering the FIR.
The court in its order noted that the victim claimed to have raised an alarm to stop the accused from molesting her. However, surprisingly, none of the friends of the victim came to her rescue even after being present in the same bungalow.
The court further added that the reason for the woman not disclosing the offensive conduct of the applicant, which was so dreadful, horrific, and appalling, according to her, is something incomprehensible. Citing contradictions in the girl’s statement, the court noted,
In her first statement to police a week later, she said she informed friends while leaving the premises, but later told the magistrate she went home the very next day and did not narrate the incident to anyone.
The High Court further observed photographs placed on record which lead to an impression of the woman being cheerful in the company of the accused and another friend. These photos were taken a day after the alleged incident.
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The court later having studied all the material submitted by the prosecution along with the charge sheet, had come to a conclusion that the matter did not constitute a reasonable ground to believe that the applicant is guilty of the offense.
Justice Bharti Dangre in her order said,
There cannot be a straight-jacket formula about how a woman would react to an act of outrage by a man, since all women are born into different circumstances in life, go through different things and face, experience and react differently.
However, the court also added,
Incarcerating a young person indefinitely would be an antithesis to the concept of liberty.
The accused was arrested in December 2019 and has been in jail since then. Justice Dangre said,
The concept of consent of the victim or as to what stage the consent was revoked and the act of physical indulgence was attempted to be restrained is a matter of trial.
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Adding further the court stated,
The long-lived notion, as expressed by Warren Buffet, — If a lady says NO, she means maybe is old hat tricks and the issue as to whether the girl consented freely for a physical indulgence with her is to be searched by applying the new standards of modern life and the present social scenario.
Bombay High Court also said,
It is a settled position of law that extra-judicial confession is a weak piece of evidence, unless corroborated with substantial evidence. A neat balance has to be struck in the conundrum between individual liberty of the accused and securing justice for the victim.
Keeping in mind the situation of COVID, the court said that chances of trial commencing and concluding in immediate times were far beyond reality given the huge galloping pendency which the judicial system would be staring at, at the end of the pandemic.
The court also noted that the man who was being accused was a graduate in mechanical engineering and had no criminal antecedents. Bail was granted on a personal bond of Rs 50,000.