SC dismisses plea against Farooqui’s acquittal in rape case

New Delhi, Jan 19 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea filed by an American researcher challenging the Delhi High Court verdict acquitting Peepli Live’ co- director Mahmood Farooqui in an alleged rape case.

The apex court rejected the plea filed by the 30-year-old woman, saying it would not interfere with the high court’s “well-written judgement”.

“We are not satisfied. We will not interfere with the high court verdict. It is a well-written judgement,” the bench comprising Justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao said.

Farooqui was earlier convicted and sentenced to seven- year jail term by a trial court in New Delhi in August 2016.

However, the high court had acquitted him in the case last year.

The police had on June 19, 2015, lodged the FIR against Farooqui on the woman’s complaint after which he was arrested.

The police had ten days later filed its charge sheet against Farooqui alleging he had raped the research scholar from Columbia University at his Sukhdev Vihar house in South Delhi on March 28, 2015. Farooqui had denied all allegations.

During the hearing before the apex court on Friday, the woman’s counsel told the bench that a new argument of alleged consensual relation was advanced by Farooqui’s lawyer before the high court and claimed that this issue was not raised before the lower court during the trial.

The bench, however, observed that it was not a case where a strangers came, met and did something as both Farooqui and the woman were known to each other.

“This is a very hard case. We would like to say that it has been decided extremely well (by the high court),” the top court said.

When the woman’s counsel said the issue was whether there was any consent, the bench observed that there appeared to be a “positive response” which according to her was faked by her.

“People give false smiles. How would the other person know that it’s a false response. This is very difficult to understand,” the bench said, adding, “she appeared to have responded in a positive manner”.

When the petitioner’s counsel referred to the email conversation between the woman and Farooqui, the apex court said the record reflects that they were good friends.

The bench also referred to one of the communications between them and asked whether she had said “I love you” to Farooqui in one of the emails after the alleged incident.

“How many rape cases you have gone through where the prosecutrix (woman) has said I love you to the alleged accused much after the alleged incident,” the bench asked the counsel and also posed several other queries including how many times the woman had visited Farooqui and had drinks together.

The bench was not satisfied with the answers given by the counsel and dismissed the plea, saying no question of law was involved in the matter.

The Delhi High Court had on September 25 last year acquitted Farooqui saying it remained doubtful whether any such incident took place.

The high court, which analysed the case, gave the film- maker the benefit of doubt and set aside the trial court order that had awarded a seven-year jail term to him. The high court had asked the Tihar jail authorities to release Farooqui, who was in custody since August 4, 2016.

The high court judge had said in the order that “the testimony of the victim is not reliable and there are discrepancies.”

The high court had, however, brushed aside her contention and noted that “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.”

A trial court had on August 4 last year sent him to jail for seven years, observing that he had taken advantage of the situation when the victim was alone in his house.

The court, which on July 30, 2016 had held Farooqui guilty of raping the woman in 2015 in a drunken state, had also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on him.

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