Mahmood Farooqui vs State (Govt Of Nct Of Delhi) on 25 September, 2017

* IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI

% Reserved on: 01.09.2017
Delivered on: 25.09.2017
+ CRL.A.944/2016

MAHMOOD FAROOQUI ….. Appellant

versus

STATE (GOVT OF NCT OF DELHI) ….. Respondent

Advocates who appeared in this case:
For the Appellant: Mr. Kapil Sibal, Sr. Adv. and
Mr. Prashanto Chandra Sen, Sr. Adv. with
Ms. Nitya Ramakrishnan, Mr. Ashwath
Sitaraman, Ms. Suhasini Sen Mr. Nizam
Pasha Mr. Shivanshu Singh.
For the Respondent: Ms. Richa Kapoor, ASC
Insp. Ram Niwas W/SI Seema, P.S. New
Friends Colony
For the Complainant: Ms. Vrinda Grover Ms. Ratna Appnender.
CORAM:-
HON’BLE MR JUSTICE ASHUTOSH KUMAR
JUDGMENT

ASHUTOSH KUMAR, J

1. Mahmood Farooqui, the appellant, has been convicted under

Section 376(1) of the IPC vide judgment dated 30.07.2016 passed by

the Additional Sessions Judge – Special Fast Track Court, Saket

Courts, New Delhi in Sessions Case No.118/15 (New SC

No.1590/2016), arising out of FIR No.273/2015 dated 19.06.2015

(P.S. New Friends Colony) registered under Section 376 of the IPC.

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He has been sentenced by order dated 04.08.2016 to undergo RI for 7

years, and to pay a fine of Rs.50,000/-.

2. The prosecutrix, in her FIR has stated that she is a student of

Columbia University, New York and is a fulbright fellow affiliated

with Delhi University, History Department and had been pursuing her

PhD work in the field of Hindi literature and Nath Sampraday. She

had come to Delhi in June, 2014 and was in search of some contact at

Gorakhpur for the purposes of getting information regarding Nath

Sampraday. It was in this connection that she was introduced to the

appellant through a friend, Danish Hussaini, who has been examined

as PW10 in the trial. On the day of the occurrence i.e. on 28.03.2015,

she had called the appellant requesting him to arrange for tickets of his

performance which was to be staged a day after. The appellant invited

her over to his house for dinner. Later, at 4 o‟clock in the afternoon,

the appellant informed her that he would be going to a wedding. The

prosecutrix thought that perhaps the appellant and his wife would be

going to the wedding. She thereafter arrived around 9 p.m. at the

house of the appellant and saw two students leaving the house. After

exchanging brief courtesies with them, the prosecutrix went upstairs

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and the door was opened by Ashish Singh, a friend of the appellant

who has been examined as PW12. The prosecutrix found the appellant

to be in an intoxicated and lachrymose state. The prosecutrix was

asked to go to the office room of the appellant. After waiting there for

about 20 minutes, the prosecutrix came out of the office room for a

smoke on the porch when she was asked by the appellant to sit down

near him. The prosecutrix hugged the appellant, enquired from him as

to whether there was a need for a group hug and also asked him about

the reason for his sadness. At that point of time, the appellant is said

to have told Ashish (PW12) to leave the room and also informed that

one Darrain (DW3) would be coming. After Ashish left the company

of the prosecutrix and the appellant, the appellant called Darrain and

also put him on speaker phone. The prosecutrix heard Darrain saying

that he would not come. The prosecutrix then called Darrain when the

appellant had left the room. Darrain was informed by the prosecutrix

that the appellant was drunk and that Darrain needed to come to his

house. Darrain expressed his inability and promised to talk to her the

next day. Thereafter, the appellant came back and he and the

prosecutrix had a talk for a while. It has been alleged by the

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prosecutrix that thereafter the appellant kissed her, to which she

responded by saying that she did not think that it was what he needed.

The appellant kept on kissing the prosecutrix and telling her about her

being a great woman. He also disclosed his intention of sucking her to

which she promptly denied. The appellant and the prosecutrix were

seated on the couch. The prosecutrix has then alleged that the

appellant tried to pull down her underwear and she kept on pulling it

up. The prosecutrix was thereafter immobilized by the appellant who

forced oral sex upon her.

3. The prosecutrix has stated that in the first instance, she was

scared because of the strength of the appellant but because she did not

want to get hurt, she pretended an orgasm. The appellant tried to

repeat what he had done but in the meantime the door bell rang and

the two friends of the appellant returned. Thereafter, the prosecutrix

wanted to leave and so she booked a MERU cab and simultaneously

texted her friend Danish Hussaini (PW10). She also told Ashish

(PW12) that she wanted to go but was asked by Ashish to stay back

for a while as in case the wife of the appellant, Anusha (not examined)

did not return, she will have to feed the appellant. The prosecutrix, in

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the event of the driver of the MERU cab not locating the house of the

appellant, wanted to get a rickshaw but she was dissuaded and was

told that it was dangerous for her in the night to take a rickshaw ride.

The wife of the appellant in the meantime returned and the appellant

asked her to go. Taxi was fetched by Ashish. When the prosecutrix

got into the car, she immediately called Danish Hussaini (PW10) and

told him about what had happened between her and the appellant. She

has stated in her complaint that she wanted to take legal action against

the appellant for his act and that she did not want to go through the

medical examination.

4. On the aforesaid complaint, FIR No.273/15 dated 19.06.2015

was registered for investigation under Section 376 of the IPC.

5. The police after investigation submitted charge sheet

whereupon cognizance was taken and the case was committed to the

court of sessions for trial.

6. Charge was framed against the appellant for the offence under

Section 376 of the IPC to which the appellant pleaded not guilty and

claimed to be tried.

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7. The trial court after examining 20 witnesses on behalf of the

prosecution and 6 witnesses on behalf of the defence, convicted the

appellant under Section 376(1) of the IPC vide judgment dated

30.07.2016 and by order dated 04.08.2016 sentenced him to undergo

RI for 7 years and to pay a fine of Rs.50,000/-.

8. During the trial, the prosecutrix, who was examined as PW5,

supported the prosecution version and stated that in order to complete

her dissertation work on Nath Sampraday, she was in search of a

contact person and was introduced to the appellant through a common

friend, Danish (PW10). The prosecutrix met the appellant regarding

her research and he also agreed to meet her at Archive Library, Teen

Murti where she had been conducting her research. Later, in the year

2014, she met the appellant in the canteen outside the library and she

was put in touch with other scholars. The appellant and the

prosecutrix communicated with each other and exchanged SMS

messages. She has deposed that she met the appellant for the second

time in Nagaland Café with her friend, a student of PhD from

Columbia University who was working on Indian drama. Thereafter,

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the prosecutrix was in constant communication with the appellant

through SMS messages.

9. For the third time, the prosecutrix has deposed, she met the

appellant in January 2015 when he had invited her to attend a dinner

party at his house at Sukhdev Vihar, New Delhi. On one occasion, the

prosecutrix was also invited by the appellant to come to Gorakhpur

along with him and his wife to which she had initially agreed but later,

after finding that it would be inconvenient for her because of her

commitment with her academic advisor at Jaipur, she declined the

offer. The prosecutrix thereafter went to Jaipur to meet her academic

advisor. After her return from Jaipur in early February 2015, she was

called by the appellant who inquired her whereabouts. On her

informing the appellant that she was in Hauz Khas Village, the

appellant told her that he would be coming to Hauz Khas Village

along with his friend Darrain Shahidi (Dw3). After about half an

hour, the appellant and his friend Darrain Shahidi came. The

prosecutrix found him drunk. They all went to a café in Hauz Khas

Village where they had liquor and food. From there, they all went to

one Radhika (not examined), a friend of the appellant at Hauz Khas.

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There again, the appellant consumed liquor. From Radhika‟s house,

all the aforesaid persons went to Nagaland Kitchen in the car of the

appellant. During the journey, the appellant kissed her and the

prosecutrix returned his kiss. Immediately after reaching Nagaland

Kitchen, the appellant left on somebody‟s telephone call. The

prosecutrix was thereafter only in the company of Darrain and

Radhika, both of whom told her about the excessive drinking habit of

the appellant.

10. The prosecutrix thereafter did not have any contact with the

appellant till she was again invited for dinner by the appellant at his

house. On that occasion also, the appellant, his wife and the

prosecutrix consumed liquor and during the period of brief absence of

his wife who was moving from one room to another, the appellant and

the prosecutrix exchanged kisses. She was also asked by the appellant

to stay over and sleep on a couch which she refused. She has deposed

before the trial court that since she did not want the relationship to go

any further, she left the house of the appellant by calling an Uber Taxi.

11. On one occasion, on a dry day, on the asking of the appellant,

the prosecutrix had arranged for a bottle of liquor for him. The

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prosecutrix has taken reference of another rendezvous with the

appellant when she had invited him on her birthday party at Hauz

Khas Village for which she had extended the invitation to Darrain and

the wife of the appellant also. However, because of over intoxication

of the appellant, as was informed to her by Darrain, nobody came to

the party.

12. Then came the day when the alleged occurrence took place.

The prosecutrix has averred that on 28.03.2015 she had gone to the

house of Sonal Shah, one of her friends, at Jungpura Extension at

about 10 a.m. when the aforesaid friend expressed her desire to learn

Urdu. It was then that the prosecutrix had telephonically requested the

appellant for arranging two tickets for his performance so that her

friend could learn Urdu. The appellant promptly promised for the

tickets and also invited her for dinner. At about 4:00 p.m, the

prosecutrix was informed that the plan of the appellant had changed

and he further enquired from her whether she would care for attending

a wedding to which she agreed. She was also asked by the appellant to

bring Rs.1,000/- as gift. The prosecutrix presumed that she would go

to the wedding venue with the appellant and his wife. The

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prosecutrix, according to her deposition, prepared herself for the

wedding by properly attiring herself. For some reason or the other,

instead of 8 p.m., she reached the house of the appellant at 9:00 p.m.

in a MERU cab.

13. Thereafter, the prosecutrix has narrated the same story which

she has stated in the FIR. She had a brief exchange of courtesy with

two students who were leaving the house of the appellant, one of

whom was Ankit who was introduced to her by the appellant. The

main door of the house, as has been stated by the prosecutrix in the

FIR, was opened by Ashish (PW-12). The appellant introduced Ashish

(PW-12) to her, who led her to the living room. The appellant, as

stated earlier, was intoxicated and was crying. Ashish (PW-12) was

comforting him. The appellant thereafter asked her to wait in his

office room which was on the other side of the kitchen. After

remaining in the office room for 20 minutes, she came out on the

porch for a smoke when she was ushered in by the appellant. The

prosecutrix has clearly stated that the appellant at that time was crying

so bitterly that nasal mucus dripped down to his moustache. The

prosecutrix thereafter made a drink for herself and on the asking of the

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appellant, offered him also a glass of lightly prepared Vodka. This

was the time when Ashish (PW-12) left the house. The appellant told

her that he was upset about the conduct of his wife and his mother.

The appellant also called up Darrain (PW-13) and put him on speaker

phone. Darrain, by that time, had refused to come. For a while, when

the appellant had left the room, the prosecutrix called up Darrain and

asked him to come over to which he refused and promised to talk to

her on the next day.

14. During the trial, the prosecutrix has stated that Darrain also

asked her to stay back and take care of the appellant as he had to give

a performance on the next day. She was advised by Darrain to give

water to the appellant and to put him to sleep. The appellant thereafter

came back to the room crying. The prosecutrix tied to comfort him

and in the process joked with him. She has stated that she felt „very

maternal‟ towards the appellant. Kisses were exchanged and the

appellant asked her for a sexual favour which she denied. Thereafter,

as narrated in the FIR, she was put down and was subjected to forced

oral sex.

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15. What is new and different in the deposition of the prosecutrix as

compared to the averments made in the FIR is that she claims to have

remembered the case of Nirbhaya, whose offender had declared that if

she (Nirbhaya) had not protested, she would have lived her life. The

prosecutrix claims that she kept quiet and faked an orgasm in order to

avoid any physical harm to her. It was at that time that the door bell

rang; when she got up and found that Ashish and another person,

namely the brother of the appellant (Mashood @ Roomi) had come

back. The aforesaid two persons again started comforting the

appellant. The prosecutrix went back to the living room and called a

MERU cab. She told Ashish that she was wanting to leave but Ashish

insisted her to stay on for five more minutes, as in case, the wife of the

appellant did not return, somebody would be needed to feed the

appellant. The prosecutrix suggested to Ashish to order a pizza for the

appellant. The prosecutrix waited for the MERU cab. The cab driver

could not find out the house of the appellant and finally refused to

come. The prosecutrix wanted to leave by rickshaw but it was told by

Ashish that it was dangerous in the night. Ashish thereafter offered to

fetch a cab for her. It was at this point of time that the prosecutrix

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started texting Danish Hussaini (PW10) through WhatsApp from her

mobile. The wife of the appellant, in the meantime had arrived. The

appellant came back to the living room and asked the prosecutrix to

leave the house. The prosecutrix wanted to talk to someone who knew

her and the appellant, both. So she texted Danish Hussaini through

WhatsApp and told him that the appellant was in a mess, that she was

invited by him for a wedding but the appellant was drunk and his wife

had left the house and had come back only at that time when the

prosecutrix wanted to get out of the house but she was having a

problem in getting a cab. She texted and asked Danish Hussaini to

talk to her. Danish is said to have replied to her by suggesting that she

should leave the house and get an auto and once she is into the car,

Danish would talk to her. Ashish by that time had called a cab. After

getting into the cab, the prosecutrix called Danish and told him that

accused has committed forced oral sex on her and she is very upset.

Then Danish asked her as to whether she had protested, she replied in

the affirmative. She talked to Danish for about half an hour. Since

she was not in a good shape of mind and did not want to be left alone,

she went to Hauz Khas Village where she reached at 11.30 p.m. and

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sat there till around 1.30 a.m, when she finally left that place for her

house at Jung Pura Extension.

16. On 30.03.2015, the prosecutrix is said to have sent an e-mail

(Ex.PW 3/C-9) to the appellant. For the sake of completeness, the e-

mail referred to above is being extracted below:

“I tried calling you, but was unable to get through, I want
to talk with you about what happened the other night. I
like you a lot. You know that I consider you a good friend
and I respect you, but what happened the other night
wasn’t right. I know you were in a very difficult space and
you are having some issues right now, but Saturday you
really went too far. You kept asking me if you could suck
me and I knew you were drunk and sad and things were
going awful. I knew that this wasn’t going to help things
and I told you many times I didn’t want to. But you did
become forceful. I went along, because I did not want
things to escalate, but it was not what I wanted. I was just
afraid that something bad would happen if I didn’t. This is
new for me. I completely own my sexually and I consider
you a good friend. I like you. I am attracted to you, but it
really made me feel bad when this happened. I haven’t
known what to say to you since then, I wasn’t sure if I
would say anything. In the end I consented, but it was
because of pressure and your own force physically on me.
I did not want things to go bad. I have only decided to tell
you how I feel for your own well being. I am afraid that if
you don’t realize that this is unacceptable, you may try
this on another woman when you are drunk and she will
not be so understanding.

I do love you and wish you well. I want the best for you,
whatever that is, but I also need you to know doing what
you did the other night is unacceptable. I hope this

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doesn’t affect our friendship, but am willing to deal with
the repercussions if it does.”

17. The prosecutrix has deposed that on the receipt of the e-mail

referred to above, the appellant expressed his sincerest apologies [“My

deepest apologies”]. The prosecutrix has deposed that she wanted to

ignore this fact but she could not. On 01.04.2015, she wrote to her

Academic Advisor, Allison Busch, at Columbia University through e-

mail (Ex.PW5/D) that she was sexually assaulted and wanted to come

home. There was no response of the Academic Advisor till

08.04.2015. During this period she was in contact with her mother and

sisters who wanted her to come home but she waited for the response

of her Academic Advisor. On 08.04.2015, she received an e-mail

(Ex.PW3/C-15) from the Academic Advisor. By this time the

prosecutrix had made up her mind to go back home. On 12.04.2015,

the prosecutrix again sent an e-mail (Ex.PW3/C-10) to the appellant

telling him as to how he had afflicted her life and the life of her family

members.

“Xxxx for doing this. xxxx for taking away my
confidence, xxxx for making me leave India the country I
love. Xxxx for taking advantage of my kindness. xxxx.
You were supposed to be my friend. Instead you
manipulated me. You hurt me. I said no. I said no many

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times. You didn’t listen. You pinned my arms. You pulled
my underwear down.

In the past two weeks I have blamed myself. I have spent
the last two weeks crying, processing. I have thought
about death. My mother tried to fly here to get me. My
sister has put my nieces on the phone to talk with me so I
don’t hurt myself, so I remember them and not this, not
you.

I have been trying to figure out what I could have done
differently, but I couldn’t do anything differently. You
invited me to a wedding. I was supposed to be going to a
wedding with you and anusha or darain or who the xxxx
ever. I was supposed to be going to a wedding.

I have spent the past two weeks protecting you, like I did
that night. The only thing I know is I didn’t do anything
wrong but that doesn’t matter. I am xxxx scared now. I
am xxxx screwed up now. I used to own my sexuality.

You took that from me, you forced me to do something I
did not want to do. I stopped struggling because I was
scared. I wanted to get out. I did get out.

So remember this, what you did that night wasn’t one
night, what you did that night continues to affect me and
my suffering, my pain. It’s on your hands, when I carry
this forward in life. It is your sin that I carry forward. It
is you sin that I have to overcome.

You disgust me……”

18. On the same day i.e. on 12.04.2015 she received an e-mail

(Ex.PW3/C-11) from the wife of the appellant namely Anusha which

is as hereunder:

“Hi ……Prosecutrix,
I chanced upon your email you sent Mahmood today. I am
forced into the situation of checking his mail because he

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isn’t available at the moment and we still need to figure
out our show schedules.

I am deeply disturbed by your email. What you have
described is an ordeal. I cannot imagine how you have
dealt with it so far. Needless to say that I stand with you.
If you require any help of any nature including legal, I
will assist. This is completely unacceptable behaviour,
especially for me since it happened under my roof.
You’d obviously wonder why I have not confronted
Mahmood with this but instead I am writing to you
directly. The reason for that is that Mahmood is in a
rehab. I don’t know how and when it would be
appropriate to speak with him. The issue is also
complicated by the fact that he is a Bi-polar depressive.
I really don’t know how to express how responsible I feel.
I have already spoken with his psychiatrist, and we both
feel that this matter should be reported to the authorities if
you so wish.

Please find me and his family with you in the process of
healing, as I hope the process will be of healing.

Deeply troubled.

Anusha.”

19. The wife of the appellant had apologized for what had happened

to the prosecutrix. The prosecutrix also replied to the e-mail

(Ex.PW3/C-12), telling the wife of the appellant not to blame the

bipolar disorder of her husband for the sexual assault on her and that

rape and sexual assault is executed with power.

“Anusha, I am sorry you found out in this way. I know
that this is very painful for you too. You are not

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responsible for anything that happened to me. You must
not take responsibility for his actions. They are not your
actions. They are his. Mahmood is the only one
responsible. As you can see I am angry and hurt and
processing this is very difficult right now. I cannot do it on
my own at the moment and I do not have the resources in
India to figure out how to begin the healing process, so I
am leaving tonight to go back to New York. I need to be
around my family and my colleagues. I need to get help
and support for this.

Just please do me a favour and do not blame this on his
bi-polar condition, at least in my presence. I know about
the condition, but sexual assault has nothing to do with bi-
polar and everything to do with power. The assertion of
power over another human being.”

20. The prosecutrix thereafter left India on 14.04.2015. On

15.04.2015 she again received an e-mail from the wife of the appellant

which is as hereunder:

“Hi ….Prosecutrix

I am glad to know that you will be among your friends
and family for the moment. I hope that you will be able to
overcome this horrible incident. As I said before, his
brothers and I will completely support you in whatever
you wish to do about it.

I understand how angry you must be and therefore
misread my categorical position on such matters. The
reason I mentioned Bi-polar is because that is the reason
why I don’t have access to Mahmood and therefore I am
unable to confront him at present.

Best
Anusha”

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21. The prosecutrix thereafter went to New York and saw a

counsellor at Columbia University because she was very traumatized.

By late April, she had decided to file a report about it in the

Department of Gender Based Misconduct at Columbia University. It

was at that point of time that she decided to return to India to file a

complaint against the appellant and also to continue with her research.

She wrote to the Head of Fulbright Fellowship intimating him about

the sexual assault on her and her desire to go back to India to pursue

the case against the appellant but she was advised to stay in America

because her research visa was to expire on 11.05.2015. The research

visa could not be extended and the prosecutrix had to come to India on

a 30 days‟ tourist visa only for the purposes of filing a complaint

against the appellant.

22. The prosecutrix came to India on 06.06.2015. Because of her

being unaware of the procedure in India and for fear, she visited the

police station of New Friends Colony only on 19.06.2015 and gave

her complaint (Ex.PW5/A) to a lady police officer. Since the

prosecutrix was not in a proper shape of mind, she could not actually

state in the complaint as to what had happened to her and therefore she

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added that the appellant had forced oral sex on her, in her complaint

and appended her initials. She was given a copy of the FIR

(Ex.PW1/A) and was taken to AIIMS for her medical examination.

However she refused to undergo any gynecological examination. Her

statement was recorded under Section 164 Cr.P.C. (Ex.PW5/B) at

Saket Courts. She claims to have handed over her laptop, I phone and

the dress worn at the time of incident and the photos which she had

clicked along with the cat of the appellant on the day of the incident,

to the police on 07.07.2015. She also gave the details of e-mail

exchanged between her, appellant and his wife. She had taken out the

printouts of the screen shots on her mobile phone and had handed over

to the police. She also handed over a transcript of the conversation

between her and one Ms. Mathangi Krishnamurthy during the period

31.03.2015 to 01.04.2015 (Ex.PW3/C-17 to Ex.PW3/C-20).

23. During cross-examination the prosecutrix has stated that her

mobile (MO2) was only the mobile she had used in March 2015. She

has stated that seeing the appellant in an intoxicated condition, she

was not alarmed as she had seen him in such condition even prior to

the date of the occurrence and was also not aware as to whether his

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wife Anusha was at home. During cross-examination she admitted of

several communications via e-mails and WhatsApp between her and

Danish Hussaini after 28.03.2015 but she was not sure if there was any

telephonic conversation with him after 28.03.2015. Before going to

US in April 2015, the prosecutrix claims to have visited Rajasthan.

She has tried to explain that she was making an attempt to forget what

was meted out to her by the appellant and wanted to concentrate on

her work. She knew that the appellant was alcoholic but had never

found him misbehaving under the influence of liquor before the

incident. She denied that her version is an exaggerated account of

what happened on the day of the occurrence and that she had tried to

put up a different case altogether than what was suggested by her in

the FIR. She has categorically denied that on 30.03.2015, the

appellant had called her and had told her that he did not appreciate her

moves to insinuate a closeness with him and that he did not share the

same feeling and wished the association to end. She expressed her

complete ignorance about the fact as to whether US Embassy rendered

counsellor services to American citizens who are subjected to crime

and assault in India including emergency services. When the

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prosecutrix spoke to the American Embassy, she was specifically told

that no help would be available to her as it is a private matter. She

claims her ignorance about the advisories rendered by the American

Embassy.

24. Since the major thrust of the argument in defence of the

appellant is on the fact that at no point of time the appellant was alone

with the prosecutrix in his house and specially at the time when the

occurrence is said to have taken place which is after 10.09 p.m. and

that if at all such an occurrence had taken place, it was consensual, it

would be necessary to examine the deposition of Murtaza Danish

Hussaini (PW10), Ashish Singh (PW12) and Anuj Pawra (PW20).

25. Murtaza Danish Hussaini (PW10) has deposed that he knew the

appellant for the last 10 years as he was his collaborator in the

traditional art form of story telling, „Dastangoi‟ since 2005. He had

met the prosecutrix in June 2014, who was undertaking research at

Gorakhpur on Nath Samraday. Since the prosecutrix wanted to know

somebody who was proficient in History and had idea about

Gorakhpur, he introduced her to the appellant in June 2014.

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26. On 28.03.2015, he was at Dehradun. At about 10:30 p.m, he

started receiving WhatsApp messages on his mobile phone from the

prosecutrix which clearly indicated that she was sexually assaulted by

the appellant. He asked her to leave the house of the appellant

immediately. A little later, the prosecutrix is said to have called him

while sitting in the cab that she had experienced something which she

had never encountered before i.e. the appellant had forced himself

upon her. On further query, the prosecutrix told him that the appellant

forced oral sex on her. On PW10 asking her as to why she did not

leave the house immediately, she responded by saying that the friends

of the appellant came at that time and that she was trying to arrange a

cab but one of the friends of the appellant told her that it was not safe

and that the cab would be arranged by one of them.

27. On hearing about the aforesaid incident, PW10 claims to have

gone under shock. While the prosecutrix talked to him, she also cried.

PW10 met the police for the first time when he was called in the

police station. During the cross-examination, he admitted of knowing

the parents, brothers and the in-laws of the appellant. He had talked to

the prosecutrix on phone after 28.03.2015 but could not tell the dates

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 23 of 82
on which such conversation took place. He came to know about the

complaint only after the same was lodged with the New Friends

Colony police station.

28. With respect to the WhatsApp messages exchanged between

him and the prosecutrix, he has stated before the court that neither did

he hand over those to the police nor the police asked for it and that he

had deleted such messages in April 2015. The prosecutrix had asked

him about a criminal lawyer but because of his not knowing anyone in

that field, he could not help. He was also forwarded/sent the e. mails

exchanged between the prosecutrix and the appellant and his wife

sometime after 28.03.2015 but he never responded to those e. mails.

PW10 admits of calling the prosecutrix on her mobile on 12.04.2015

after the occurrence on 28.03.2015. During the cross-examination, the

aforesaid witness has denied of having received any call from the

prosecutrix on 11.06.2015 but admitted that he talked to her on

14.06.2015 and 20.06.2015.

29. Prior to PW10 having talked to the prosecutrix, the wife of the

appellant had called him for intervening on behalf of the appellant and

for speaking to the prosecutrix. When PW10 talked to the prosecutrix

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 24 of 82
about settling the issue, she became very angry and told him that after

the trauma she had undergone, she would not withdraw her complaint

and disconnected the telephone. The aforesaid fact was

communicated to the appellant and his wife. PW10 has admitted of

receiving number of telephone calls from many friends regarding the

issue of settling the dispute. When confronted with the WhatsApp

message (Mark PX) exchanged between him and the prosecutrix on

28.03.2015, he stated that such messages did not mention of sexual

assault.

30. Ashish Singh (PW12) who is a journalist working with Aaj Tak

channel, stated before the trial court that he is a childhood friend of the

appellant and hails from Gorakhpur. On 28.03.2015, at about 8:30/

9:00 p.m. he had gone to the house of the appellant when Ankit and

Poonam (students) were having discussion with the appellant. The

aforesaid two students left after 5-10 minutes. While he and the

appellant were talking, the prosecutrix arrived, who was introduced to

him by the appellant. The prosecutrix was asked by the appellant go

to the study room since the appellant wanted to talk to PW12. After

some time, the prosecutrix joined him and the appellant. PW12

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 25 of 82
thereafter went downstairs to bring something and came back along

with the brother of the appellant after 20-25 minutes. He found the

appellant and the prosecutrix sitting in the living room and the

appellant was writing something. PW12 sat there for some time and

also talked to the prosecutrix and the appellant. The prosecutrix

thereafter, wanted to go and PW12 called a taxi on which the

prosecutrix left.

31. During cross-examination, PW12 has categorically stated that

he left the house of the appellant at about 9:30 p.m. and returned about

10-15 minutes or 20-25 minutes but definitely before 10:00 p.m. He

had telephoned his common friend Radhika at about 10:15 p.m.

PW12 knew that Darrain was expected there between 9:00 p.m. to

9:30 p.m. He claims to have sent a text message to his wife after

arriving at the house of the appellant. [It may be noted here that while

PW12 was being cross-examined, he had taken out his mobile phone

from his pocket and showed the SMS sent to his wife at 10:02 p.m. on

28.03.2015. This evidence was produced before the court for the first

time during trial. An objection was raised by the prosecution that such

SMS was not admissible in evidence as it did not comply with the

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 26 of 82
mandatory requirements of law as laid down in Anvar P.V. vs. P.K.

Basheer and Others (2014) 10 SCC 473, in the light of the Indian

Evidence Act and Income Tax Act, 2000.] He had talked to

prosecutrix about Gorakhpur after his return. The prosecutrix had

taken his telephone number. The aforesaid witness has affirmed the

fact that Anusha, wife of the appellant, had gone to her parents‟ house

and was expected to bring food. He has also confirmed the fact that

the prosecutrix was talking from her phone to somebody. The wife of

the appellant (Anusha) returned before the prosecutrix had left the

house of the appellant. While going, the prosecutrix had hugged the

appellant and had waived a good bye. Ashish Singh had gone

downstairs to see her off. The prosecutrix is said to have called him

after reaching her destination at 23:25:46 hours from mobile telephone

No.7042132004. He thereafter left the house of the appellant at about

11:30/12:00 in the night.

32. The aforesaid witness was re-examined on 22.02.2016. During

the re-examination, he stated that when he returned to the house of the

appellant on 28.03.2015, the prosecutrix was sitting quietly in the

room and he also denied other suggestions to him regarding his

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 27 of 82
tampering or doctoring the SMS message to his wife at 10:02 p.m. in

order to help the appellant. However, he has admitted that he did not

inform the IO about the SMS message to his wife. On being crossed

by the defence counsel, PW12 gave the mobile number of his wife and

also stated that the wife of the appellant had come within few seconds

of his sending the message to his wife.

33. Anuj Pawra (PW20), owner of Moonshine Café and Bar at

Hauz Khas has deposed that the prosecutrix used to stay at Hauz Khas

Village and was a regular customer of his café and bar. He had met

her in September/October 2014. On 28,.03.2015, the restaurant of

PW20 had completed one year and to celebrate that event, he had

called his customers. He had spoken to the prosecutrix also for 3-4

times from his telephone number. In his cross-examination with

respect to call details, he has stated that he wanted to invite the

prosecutrix in the event on that day but she refused by saying that she

had to go for a dinner at her friend‟s house. With respect to a call on

28.03.2015 at 22:11:22 hours from the mobile number of the

prosecutrix, he has stated that he could not converse with the

prosecutrix as the line got disconnected. However, he has stated that

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 28 of 82
the prosecutrix came to his restaurant at 11:30 p.m. on 28.03.2015.

When PW20 asked the prosecutrix about the call which he had

received from her, she expressed her ignorance.

34. On behalf of the appellant, it has been argued that from the

deposition of the witnesses, certain undisputed facts emerge. The

prosecutrix arrived at the house of the appellant between 8:54 p.m.

and 10:56 p.m. on 28.03.2015. Ashish Singh (PW12) was present in

the house when the prosecutrix had entered the same. Ashish Singh

went out of the house around 9:30 p.m. and returned after 20-25

minutes along with the brother of the appellant. The prosecutrix

remained in the house for another 45 minutes or so in the house of the

appellant. Ashish Singh escorted the prosecutrix downstairs and saw

her off. The prosecutrix called Ashish Singh after reaching Hauz

Khas at 11:25 p.m.

35. From the CDRs, it has been sought to be established that from

8:48 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Ashish (PW12) was in the house of the

appellant; between 9:34 p.m. and 9:48 p.m. he had moved out to a

different cell tower but was back to the cell tower of the appellant at

10:02 p.m. Thereafter, he remained in the house of the appellant till

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 29 of 82
about 12:00 p.m. The wife of the appellant had arrived before the

prosecutrix left the house of the appellant. It was therefore suggested

that the sexual assault on the prosecutrix by the appellant after 10:09

p.m. was not possible. The admitted case of the prosecution is that

after ending the call on mobile phone with Danish Shaheedi (DW3) at

10:09 p.m. and before she used her mobile for starting the MERU app,

the prosecutrix had conversation with the appellant for some time.

Then the assault is said to have taken place. The assault, admittedly,

had been perpetrated immediately prior to the arrival of Ashish and

Roomi in the house of the appellant.

36. From the deposition of Ashish Singh (PW12), it has been

argued, it becomes very clear that he texted his wife telling her that he

has reached the house of the appellant at 10:02 p.m. Thus, Ashish

Singh had left the house of the appellant at 9:30 p.m. and had come

back at 10:02 p.m. and thereafter remained in the house of the

appellant till mid night. This timing is confirmed by the testimony of

the prosecutrix wherein she says that PW12 opened the door for her at

9 p.m. She was asked to wait in another room and she joined the

appellant and PW12 about 20 minutes later in the living room.

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 30 of 82
Thereafter, according to the prosecutrix, Ashish Singh went out of the

house and returned later with the brother of the appellant. Ashish

Singh thereafter saw her off. The prosecutrix had taken his telephone

number and had called PW12 after reaching her destination, which

fact is born out from the CDR of the prosecutrix. Thus, the story of

the prosecution that the assault took place after 10:09 p.m. in the

absence of Ashish Singh is rendered completely false.

37. Mr. Kapil Sibal, learned senior advocate appearing for the

appellant has submitted that the veracity of this sequence of events

could be tested from other evidence on record.

38. Vikram Kumar, who has been examined as DW5 is a business

Analyst, IT Corporate, MERU Cab Company Pvt. Ltd, Hyderabad.

He has stated before the trial court that the servers of the MERU cab

are located at Bombay. But the technical team which has access on

the server is at Hyderabad. He had accessed the booking data and trip

data of a customer having mobile No.70421320004 which stood in the

name of the prosecutrix. On 28.03.2015, three booking were made

from the aforesaid mobile phone through the mobile app at 20:07,

22:12 and 22:35. The aforesaid witness has proved the Excel sheet

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 31 of 82
print (Ex.DW5/B) and the certificate under Section 65 of the Evidence

Act (Ex.DW5/C) as well as (Ex.DW5/B) which contains the name and

mobile number of the driver, subscriber‟s first name and the mobile

number. He has stated that there were three different timings of

pressing of the booking button by the customer. The receipt of the

request for booking on the server and the difference of the time

between the pressing of the button for request and its receipt at the

server can vary from 10-16 seconds, depending on the speed of the

network. He also testified to the fact that the normal time taken by a

customer or the time of opening the phone till the booking of the cab

varies from 30-60 seconds, depending upon the make of the telephone

and the network which is being used as well as the personal speed of

the customer on the apparatus.

39. Rajesh Pal (DW2), an Assistant Manager, MERU Cab

Company Pvt. Ltd. brought the record of MERU cab booking from the

mobile number of prosecutrix (Ex.DW2/A). He has also confirmed

that three bookings were made on 28.03.2017 through mobile app.

The time of the first booking was 20:07 hours, the second booking

was at 22:12 hours. The driver‟s name was Vinod Kumar Sharma.

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 32 of 82
He further testified that the second booking was cancelled by the

customer. The time of the third booking was 22:35 hours when the

name of the driver was Manish Kumar. This time also, the booking

was cancelled by the customer.

40. Thus, what can be inferred from the aforesaid deposition is, as

has been argued, that the MERU server registered booking of the

prosecutrix at 10:12:07 p.m. This means that the prosecutrix would

have begun operating her app sometime before. The timing therefore

of the prosecutrix starting her phone can be fixed at 10:10 p.m. or

10:11 p.m. The call was made, admittedly, after the occurrence which

is alleged to have taken place after 10:09 p.m. Thus, it has been

suggested, that the time window for the whole sequence of events is

completely untrustworthy as only a minute or two would have been

left for the act complained of to be performed.

41. This could be tested from another documentary evidence.

There was supposedly a blank call to Anuj Pawra (PW20) at 10:11:21

p.m. for 20 seconds. This call was apparently made when the

prosecutrix was in the house of the appellant and perhaps during the

time that occurrence had taken place. The call to the MERU app was

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 33 of 82
after the occurrence. Thus the attempt at calling the taxi was only

before 10:11 p.m.

42. The second argument on behalf of the appellant is in the nature

of an alternative argument that, if at all, such an occurrence had taken

place, it was with the consent of the prosecutrix. It has been suggested

that the e-mail of the prosecutrix on 30.03.2015 clearly depicts that

there was some kind of an affectionate/intimate relationship between

the appellant and the prosecutrix. A day after the alleged occurrence,

the prosecutrix was communicating with the appellant that she liked

him and that she considered him to be a good friend and respected him

but, what happened on the night of 28.03.2015 was not right. The

prosecutrix had herself offered an explanation for the same and had

stated that she knew that the appellant was in a difficult space and was

having some issues. However, simultaneously, she stated that on

28.03.2015, the appellant went really too far. She had also stated that

the appellant was drunk and was continuously asking for sexual

favours but she had declined and had expressed that she did not want

to go for it. However, the appellant became forceful and the

prosecutrix alleges to have gone along because she did not want the

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 34 of 82
matter to escalate. She thereafter said that it was not what she wanted

and it was only because of the fear of something bad happening to her

if she went along. In the same breath, the prosecutrix has stated that

the experience was new for her but she still remained attracted to the

appellant. She felt bad with what had happened and she did not know

how to say this to the appellant. She was not even sure that she would

confront the appellant with this happening. Thereafter, the prosecutrix

has clearly stated that “in the end she consented, but it was because of

pressure and the physical force of the appellant on her”. Since she did

not want the things to go bad, she decided to tell the appellant that she

felt strongly for the well being of the appellant. However, to what she

was subjected to, was unacceptable and in case the appellant tried this

with another woman while under intoxication, she would not be as

understanding. Later, the prosecutrix had also written to the appellant

that she hoped that this incident would not affect their friendship but

she was willing to deal with the repercussions if at all it took place.

43. Mr. Sibal, learned senior advocate argued that even if the act

was not with her consent, she actually communicated something

which was taken as a consent by the appellant.

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 35 of 82

44. Explanation (2) to Section 375 of the IPC defines consent in the

context of the offence of rape. It sates as follows:

“Explanation 2:- Consent means an unequivocal
voluntary agreement when a woman by words, gestures
or any form of verbal or non-verbal communication,
communicates willingness to participate in the specific
sexual act:

Provided that a woman who does not physically
resist to the act of penetration shall not by the reason
only of that fact, be regarded as consenting to the sexual
activity.

Exception 1.- A medical procedure or intervention shall
not constitute rape.

Exception 2- Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man
with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years
of age, is not rape.”

45. Consent means an unequivocal voluntary agreement when the

woman by words, gestures or any form of verbal or non-verbal

communication, communicates willingness to participate in the

specific sexual act; provided that a woman who does not physically

resist to the act of penetration shall not by the reason only of that fact

be regarded as consent to sexual activity. Thus, consent as defined

under Section 375 of the IPC includes non-verbal and verbal

communication. It has been argued that what has been communicated

to the appellant at the relevant time is important. It was suggested that

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 36 of 82
it was communicated to the appellant that there was consent because

of the following circumstances:

(a) The prosecutrix had been in the company of the appellant

and continued to be so even when she knew about his

drinking habits and also when he was heavily drunk and

befuddled on that day. The prosecutrix had exchanged

kisses and hugs with the appellant in the past. The

prosecutrix had accepted a kiss from the appellant even

while the appellant was in the company of his wife and

the wife had, for a brief period, gone out of the room, on

an earlier occasion.

(b) The prosecutrix had been cracking jokes and indulged in

playful banter immediately prior to the occurrence.

(c) During the act, the prosecutrix feigned orgasm.

(d) Prior to the act, the appellant had asked her for sexual

favours to which she did not stoutly resent or deny.

(e) The prosecutrix continued to remain in the company of

the appellant.

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 37 of 82

(f) That the prosecutrix was under fear, was absolutely

unknown to the appellant, (refer to Section 90 of the IPC

which provides that a consent is not such a consent if it is

given by a person under fear and injury or under a

misconception of fact and if the person doing the act

knows, or has reason to believe that the consent was

given in consequence of such fear or such

misconception.)

(g) The conduct of the prosecutrix, post occurrence, namely

her remaining in the house when Ashish Singh (PW12)

and Roomi, brother of the appellant, came back to the

house of the appellant.

(h) The prosecutrix did not communicate about this

occurrence to either PW12 or the brother of the appellant

or Anusha, the wife of the appellant who later arrived in

the house and lastly the e-mail dated 30.03.2015.

46. With reference to the e-mail dated 30.03.2015, it has been

argued that the e-mail was affectionately remonstrative that the

appellant went a bit too far on the other night and that the prosecutrix

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 38 of 82
went along and feigned orgasm. The history of intimacy and the

unabashed liking/attraction of the prosecutrix towards the appellant

may have given an impression to the appellant of consent. The

orgasm which was feigned by the prosecutrix, avowedly for the

purposes of preventing further damage to her, may have been taken

by the appellant as willingness on the part of the prosecutrix because it

understood/misunderstood as a non-verbal communication of consent.

Absence of any real resistance of any kind re-affirms the willingness.

An expression of disinclination alone, that also a feeble one, may not

be sufficient to constitute rape.

47. In the present case, the unwillingness of the prosecutrix was

only in her own mind and heart but she communicated something

different to the appellant. If that were not so, the prosecutrix would

not have told the appellant that he had gone too far on that night. At

what point of time, during the act, did she not give the consent for the

same, thus, remains unknown and it can safely be said that the

appellant had no idea at all that the prosecutrix was unwilling. It is

not unknown that during sexual acts, one of the partners may be a little

less willing or, it can be said unwilling but when there is an assumed

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 39 of 82
consent, it matters not if one of the partners to the act is a bit hesitant.

Such feeble hesitation can never be understood as a positive negation

of any advances by the other partner.

48. The conduct of the prosecutrix, it has been argued, suggests

volumes about the falsity of the prosecution version. The

communication of the prosecutrix via e-mail dated 30.04.2015 is one

such incidence of the prosecution version to be absolutely incorrect.

A person who has been violated against her wishes would not be so

understanding as to confront the appellant with such simple reproach.

No communication on the next day between the prosecutrix and the

appellant further buttresses the aforesaid argument. A day after the

occurrence, the prosecutrix cannot be said to be under any fear of

reprisal or reaction and her not approaching the issue with the

appellant is rather surprising.

49. Mr. Sibal has argued that within few hours of the e-mail

exchange of 30.03.2015 referred to above, the appellant had called the

prosecutrix on her phone which lasted for 76 seconds. This fact has

not been stated by the prosecutrix and when she was confronted, she

has denied the same. The CDR records reveal the same and it was not

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 40 of 82
in the mouth of the prosecutrix to have completely denied this fact or

to keep it hidden from the prosecution or to feign ignorance about the

same. She cannot be expected to have forgotten about the aforesaid

call as it was made after the e-mail message to the appellant by her. It

is thereafter, as has been submitted, that there was another exchange

of e-mail on 12.04.2015, wherein the prosecutrix was abusive and

spoke about her having been raped despite her resistance. It has also

been suggested that after the aforesaid call of the appellant to the

prosecutrix, that for the first time, she set up a case of sexual assault

which becomes evident from the communication on 31.03.2015 to

Mathangi, a friend of the prosecutrix and thereafter to her supervisor

on 01.04.2015. The intensity/seriousness of the allegation kept on

increasing successively.

50. In his statement recorded under Section 313 of the Cr.P.C., the

appellant has admitted that the prosecutrix had sent him an e-mail

(Ex.PW3/C-9) to which he had replied as “my sincerest apologies”.

He has stated that it was written only after reading the first two lines

of the e-mail as the appellant was busy that morning and was

constantly in communication with other artists and writers regarding

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 41 of 82
his performance of „Dastangoi‟. The first impression of the appellant

after going through 2-3 lines of the e-mail dated 30.03.2015 was that

the prosecutrix was upset because full attention was not given to her

on the last night. Only after the entire e-mail was read by him later

that he realized the necessity of calling the prosecutrix and telling her

that there never was any intimacy between him and her and that it

shall never be and he did not want to continue any alliance with her.

51. The denial of the prosecutrix about this telephone call of the

appellant is very consequential and appears to be deliberate. The

reaction of the prosecutrix became different only after this call by the

appellant to her.

52. Apart from the above, Mr. Sibal, learned senior advocate for the

appellant also drew the attention of this Court to the response of the

wife of the appellant which made it very obvious that the appellant

was a bipolar patient and was under a rehabilitation regimen.

53. So far as the conduct of the prosecutrix is concerned, it has been

argued, that she has deliberately avoided to come with clean hands

before the police and before the Trial Court. It was suggested that she

deleted the WhatsApp messages to destroy inconvenient evidence and

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 42 of 82
has made best efforts to conceal the deletion of the first

communication after the alleged incident. The telephone was handed

over to the police on 07.07.2015 only. She also concealed a pretty

long conversation between the appellant and herself on 30.03.2015

soon after the exchange of the email. With respect to the call to Anuj

Pawra (PW.20) and about her fixing a MERU cab also, certain vital

information have been withheld by her. Coupled with all this, the

delay in lodging the FIR has also not been properly explained.

54. The prosecutrix, it has been argued, cannot be believed as she is

the sole witness/victim of the occurrence but her evidence is not of a

stellar quality. In Rai Sandeep @ Deepu vs. State: (2012) 8 SCC 21,

the Supreme Court has defined as to who is a “sterling witness”. A

“sterling witness” is one who is of a very high quality and caliber,

whose version is unassailable and the court considering the version of

such a witness should be in a position to accept it on, its face value

without any hesitation. The Supreme Court in Rai Sandeep (supra) has

gone on to state that to test the quality of such a witness, the status of

the witness would be immaterial and the relevant consideration would

only be the truthfulness of the statement made by such a witness. If the

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 43 of 82
statement is consistent right from the starting point till the end and is

found to be natural and consistent with the case of the prosecution, his

deposition is safe to be relied upon. There should not be any

prevarication in the version of such a witness to be called a “sterling

witness”. The version of such witness should have a correlation with

each and every supporting material of the case and should match with

the version of every other witness. It was summed up by the Supreme

Court by stating that if the version of a witness, on the core spectrum

of the crime, remains intact and the other materials match such version

in essential particulars, then only, it would enable a Court to rely upon

the core version. The test to be applied for considering such witness

to be truthful is similar to the test applied in case of circumstantial

evidence where there are no missing links in the chain of the

circumstances to hold an accused guilty of the offence alleged against

him.

55. Thus, it was argued that there are serious doubts as to the

possibility of the commission of the act complained of, in the light of

the independent record namely the CDRs of Ashish Singh (PW.12)

and MERU booking records. The testimony of the prosecutrix is at

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 44 of 82
complete variance with other prosecution witnesses. Even she

(prosecutrix) has been inconsistent on very many material particulars.

A reference has been made to the case of Tameezuddin @ Tammu vs

State Of (Nct) Of Delhi : (2009) 15 SCC 566, where the Supreme

Court has held as here under:

“It is true that in a case of rape the evidence of the

prosecutrix must be given predominant consideration,

but to hold that this evidence has to be accepted even if

the story is improbable and belies logic, would be doing

violence to the very principles which govern the

appreciation of evidence in a criminal matter.”

56. As opposed to the aforesaid submissions, Ms.Vrinda Grover,

learned counsel appearing for the complainant/prosecutrix has argued

that the averments made by her in the FIR, the statement given by her

under section 164 of the Cr.P.C. and her deposition before the Trial

Court are absolutely consistent with respect to the guilt of the

appellant. The appellant had committed forced oral sex upon the

prosecutrix within the meaning of section 375(d) of the IPC. On

30.03.2015, the appellant, in his email reply to the prosecutrix,

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 45 of 82
admitted of the same and apologized to her for having committed the

act without her consent and against her will.

57. It was further submitted on behalf of the prosecutrix that she

was unable to cope with the emotional and mental trauma and

therefore she returned to USA. Only when she became confident of

the support from her family and her friends in the USA that she

gathered courage to return to India to lodge the FIR on 19.06.2015 at

New Friends Colony police station.

58. The evidence of the prosecutrix, it has been urged, is of sterling

quality and is consistent with other evidence collected during the

course of trial and matches with the independent records comprising

emails, sms, WhatsApp communication and Call Data Records

(CDRs). It has been vehemently argued that the prosecutrix

categorically said „no‟ to the advances of the appellant when he began

to kiss her and also pushed him away. The statement of the

prosecutrix clearly reveals that while the appellant attempted to

disrobe her, she kept on pulling her underwear up. It was only because

of the physical strength of the appellant that he pinned the prosecutrix

down and forced oral sex on her.

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 46 of 82

59. Learned counsel for the prosecutrix has drawn special attention

to the statement of the prosecutrix where she has said that she became

scared and a thought passed in her mind that she would also meet the

same fate as Nirbhaya and therefore, she faked an orgasm because she

wanted to end the traumatic encounter. In the first communication to

the appellant after the incident, the prosecutrix made him known that

the act was against her will and without her consent and therefore was

a grave violation of her sexuality, which was totally unacceptable to

her. In fact, in her deposition, the prosecutrix has vividly stated about

the act of the appellant upon her.

60. In so far as the other material particulars of the case matching

with the version of the prosecutrix is concerned, it has been submitted

that on 28.03.2015, the appellant had spoken to the prosecutrix over

phone and had invited her to his house for dinner in the evening.

Later, the programme was changed and the appellant informed the

prosecutrix that they would be going to a wedding and also asked her

to bring Rs.1,000/- as gift for the wedding. In the night of 28.03.2015,

while for a brief period, when the appellant was alone in the company

of the prosecutrix, he subjected her to rape. Immediately after the

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 47 of 82
rape, the prosecutrix communicated with the Danish Hussaini (PW10),

a common friend of the appellant and her and informed him that

something untowards had happened which had made her upset and

that she urgently needed to speak to him. After leaving the house of

the appellant, the prosecutrix gave PW.10, on telephone, the detailed

version of how the appellant had violated her bodily integrity. This

conversation lasted for over half an hour. All these sequence of events

have been cogently narrated by the prosecutrix in her deposition

before the Trial Court.

61. The fact that the appellant wrote back to the prosecutrix

expressing his apology is an indication of an acceptance of the guilt of

the appellant and it has to be read as an admission and subsequent

conduct of the appellant, under section 8 of the Evidence Act.

62. In the WhatsApp conversation between the prosecutrix and her

friend Mathangi Krishnamurthy (Ex.PW.3-C/16) and her email to her

academic advisor Allison Busch (Ex.PW.3-C/14 15), the

prosecutrix has laid bare her heart and mind regarding the trauma

faced by her. Thereafter, the email of the prosecutrix to the appellant

further establishes that the occurrence had taken place as alleged and

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 48 of 82
she made it clearly known to the appellant that she is going to

prosecute him. The wife of the appellant replied to her email which

also indicates that she accepted the accusation and believed her

statement. The email exchanged between the wife of the appellant and

the return of the email have been exhibited as Ex.PW.3-C/11 and

Ex.PW.3-C/13. In April, 2015, the prosecutrix reported about the rape

to Columbia University, Department of Gender based misconduct and

also informed one Adam Grotski (Head of Fulbright Administration)

that she has been sexually assaulted and had returned to US to cope

with the post-incident trauma. Since the visa was not extended, the

prosecutrix obtained a tourist visa, only for the purposes of lodging the

complaint against the appellant.

63. It has been argued that if upon consideration of the prosecution

case in its entirety, the testimony of prosecutrix inspires confidence,

there should be no necessity of corroboration of her evidence and such

hunt for corroboration has to be avoided. The sole testimony of the

prosecutrix in cases of rape is sufficient for conviction. It has been

argued that the Supreme Court in State of Punjab vs. Gurmeet Singh:

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 49 of 82
(1996) 2 SCC 384 has made the following observations with respect to

the evidence of a victim of sexual assault.

“The inherent bashfulness of the females and the
tendency to conceal outrage of sexual aggression are
factors which the Courts should not over-look. The
testimony of the victim in such cases is vital and unless
there are compelling reasons which necessitate looking
for corroboration of her statement, the courts should find
no difficulty to act on the testimony of a victim of sexual
assault alone to convict an accused where her testimony
inspires confidence and is found to be reliable. Seeking
corroboration of her statement before relying upon the
same, as a rule, in such cases amounts to adding insult to
injury. Why should the evidence of a girl of a woman who
complains of rape or sexual molestation, be viewed with
doubt, disbelief or suspicion? The Court while
appreciating the evidence of a prosecutrix may look for
some assurance of her statement to satisfy its judicial
conscience, since she is a witness who is interested in the
outcome of the charge levelled by her, but there is no
requirement of law to insist upon corroboration of her
statement to base conviction of an accused. The evidence
of a victim of sexual assault stands almost on a par with
the evidence of an injured witness and to an extent is even
more reliable. Just as a witness who has sustained some
injury in the occurrence, which is not found to be self
inflicted, is considered to be a good witness in the sense
that he is least likely to shield the real culprit, the
evidence of a victim of a sexual offence is entitled to great
weight, absence of corroboration notwithstanding.
Corroborative evidence is not an imperative component
of judicial credence in every case of rape. Corroboration
as a condition for judicial reliance on the testimony of the
prosecutrix is not a requirement of law but a guidance of
prudence under given circumstances. It must not be over-
looked that a woman or a girl subjected to sexual assault

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 50 of 82
is not an accomplice to the crime but is a victim of
another person’s lust and it is improper and undesirable
to test her evidence with a certain amount of suspicion,
treating her as if she were an accomplice. Inferences
have to be drawn from a given set of facts and
circumstances with realistic diversity and not dead
uniformity lest that type of rigidity in the shape of rule of
law is introduced through a new form of testimonial
tyranny making justice a casualty. Courts cannot cling to
a fossil formula and insist upon corroboration even if,
taken as a whole, the case spoken of by the victim of sex
crime strikes the judicial mind as probable. In State of
Maharashtra Vs. Chandraprakash Kewalchand Jain
Ahmadi, J. (as the Lord Chief Justice then was) speaking
for the Bench summarised the position in the following
words:

“A prosecutrix of a sex offence cannot be put on a
par with an accomplice. She is in fact a victim of
the crime. The Evidence Act nowhere says that
her evidence cannot be accepted unless it is
corroborated in material particulars. She is
undoubtedly a competent witness under Section
118 and her evidence must receive the same
weight as is attached to an injured in cases of
physical violence. The same degree of care and
caution must attach in the evaluation of her
evidence as in the case of an injured complainant
or witness and no more. What is necessary is that
the court must be alive to and conscious of the
fact that it is dealing with the evidence of a person
who is interested in the outcome of the charge
levelled by her. If the court keeps this in mind and
feels satisfied that it can act on the evidence of the
prosecutrix, there is no rule of law or practice
incorporated in the Evidence Act similar to
illustration (b) to Section 114 which requires it to
look for corroboration. If for some reason the
court is hesitant to place implicit reliance on the

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 51 of 82
testimony of the prosecurtix it may look for
evidence which may lend assurance to her
testimony short of corroboration required in the
case of an accomplice. The nature of evidence
required to lend assurance to the testimony of the
prosecutrix must necessarily depend on the facts
and circumstances of each case. But if a
prosecutrix is an adult and of full understanding
the court is entitled to base a conviction on her
evidence unless the same is shown to be infirm
and not trustworthy. If the totality of the
circumstances appearing on the record of the case
disclose that the prosecutrix does not have a
strong motive to falsely involve the person
charged, the court should ordinarily have no
hesitation in accepting her evidence.”

64. Reference has also been made to the judgments delivered in

Aslam vs. State of Uttar Pradesh: (2014) 13 SCC 350; Ravinder vs.

State of Madhya Pradesh: (2015) 4 SCC 491; and Om Prakash vs.

State of Uttar Pradesh: (2006) 9 SCC 787 to canvas the proposition

that victim of sexual assault cannot be treated as an accomplice and

therefore the evidence of the victim does not require any corroboration

and that it must be relied upon by the Court if such statement is cogent

and trustworthy.

65. It has next been argued that even if there are some minor

discrepancies in the version of the prosecutrix and that also on non-

material aspects, that does not entitle the prosecution case to be

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 52 of 82
thrown out. The pre and post incident conduct of the prosecutrix, it has

been argued, cannot be faulted with to prop up a false and improbable

theory. The absence of corresponding CDRs when the prosecutrix

spoke about having talked to the appellant at 4:30 p.m. in the evening

of 28.03.2015 or when the prosecutrix stated that she was asked by the

appellant to go to a wedding and the prosecutrix was not found to be

attired in a wedding dress are ancillary matters and cannot be given

any undue importance or relevance.

66. The testimony of the prosecutrix has been fully corroborated by

the evidence of Danish Hussaini (PW10) The WhatsApp chat

conversation completely matches with the prosecution version that the

prosecutrix was trying to book a taxi after the incident and she also

contemplated of taking an auto and was suggested that she should not

hire an auto in the night as it is dangerous. It has been submitted on

behalf of the prosecutrix that in the WhatsApp chat, the prosecutrix

deliberately did not write that she had been raped because it was not

the incident which could have been summarized in a WhatsApp

conversation. This cannot be read as an evidence against the appellant

as not displaying the conduct of a victim of sexual assault.

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 53 of 82

67. The prosecutrix was in a hostile environment and therefore she

had to be careful in forwarding messages. The other inmates of the

house were all closely associated to the appellant and the prosecutrix

could not have taken any risk. However, the urgency which she

depicted in the WhatsApp conversation speaks for itself.

68. The subsequent conduct of the prosecutrix, it has been argued,

is very normal, natural and reasonable as she had been raped by a

friend and not a stranger. That the prosecutrix went to Hauz Khas

village because she did not want to be alone. She had also been

advised by Danish Husaini (PW10) not to remain alone and to take

care of herself. There is no evidence, it has been argued, that at Hauz

Khas, she indulged in any conviviality. If the prosecutrix chose a busy

place to be in, to overcome her trauma, the same should not be read as

an unnatural conduct of a victim of rape.

69. The Supreme Court in Mukesh vs. State of Chhattisgarh:

(2014) 10 SCC 327, which was a case of rape, has held that the state

of mind of the prosecutrix cannot be precisely analyzed on the basis of

speculation because each person reacts differently to a particular

stressful situation.

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 54 of 82

70. The delay in the lodging of the FIR has been satisfactorily

explained and once the explanation is found to be satisfactory, no

adverse inference can be drawn against the prosecutrix.

71. The Supreme Court in State of Uttar Pradesh vs. Manoj Kumar

Pandey: (2009) 1 SCC 72; Satpal Singh vs. State of Haryana: (2010)

8 SCC 714; and Santhosh Moolya and Ors. Vs. State of Karnataka:

(2010) 5 SCC 445 has held that the normal rule regarding the duty of

the prosecution to explain the delay in lodging the FIR and the lack of

prejudice and/or prejudice caused because of such delayed lodging of

the FIR does not per se apply to cases of rape. It was held by the

Supreme Court that such was the consistent view for a very long time.

72. More or less similar arguments have been advanced on behalf

of state by Ms.Richa Kapoor, learned Additional Standing Counsel.

73. From a conspectus of the entire of facts and circumstances and

the arguments advanced on behalf of the parties, what is clearly

indicated is that the prosecutrix had become very familiar with the

appellant in recent past and had opportunity to interact with him on

several occasions. The alcoholism of the appellant was not a secret

for the prosecutrix.

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 55 of 82

74. The relationship extended beyond a normal friendship or a

relationship between a guide and a researcher. According to her own

version, physical contact with the appellant in the nature of a kiss or a

hug was being accepted by the prosecutrix without any protest. In

fact, on one occasion, while the prosecutrix was in the company of the

appellant and his wife and the wife of the appellant had been moving

from one room to another, the prosecutrix and the appellant both had

taken a bold step of kissing each other. True it is that such past

conduct will definitely not amount to consent for what happened in the

night of 28.03.2015, if at all it had happened, as for every sexual act,

everytime, consent is a must. The consent does not merely mean

hesitation or reluctance or a „No‟ to any sexual advances but has to be

an affirmative one in clear terms.

75. Section 375 of the IPC reads as hereunder:

“375 Rape–A man is said to commit “rape” if he—

a) penetrates his penis, to any extent, into the vagina,
mouth, urethra or anus of a woman or makes her to do so
with him or any other person; or

b) inserts, to any extent, any object or a part of the
body, not being the penis, into the vagina, the urethra or
anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any
other person; or

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 56 of 82

c) manipulates any part of the body of a woman so as
to cause penetration into the vagina, urethra, anus or any
part of body of such woman or makes her to do so with
him or any other person; or

d) applies his mouth to the vagina, anus, urethra of a
woman or makes her to do so with him or any other
person,

under the circumstances falling under any of the
following seven descriptions:–

First.–Against her will.

Secondly.–Without her consent.

Thirdly.–With her consent, when her consent has been
obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is
interested, in fear of death or of hurt.

Fourthly.–With her consent, when the man knows that he
is not her husband and that her consent is given because
she believes that he is another man to whom she is or
believes herself to be lawfully married.

Fifthly.–With her consent when, at the time of giving
such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or
intoxication or the administration by him personally or
through another of any stupefying or unwholesome
substance, she is unable to understand the nature and
consequences of that to which she gives consent.

Sixthly.–With or without her consent, when she is under
eighteen years of age.

Seventhly.–When she is unable to communicate consent.

Explanation I.–For the purposes of this section,
“vagina” shall also include labia majora.

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 57 of 82

Explanation 2.–Consent means an unequivocal
voluntary agreement when the woman by words, gestures
or any form of verbal or non-verbal communication,
communicates willingness to participate in the specific
sexual act:

Provided that a woman who does not physically resist to
the act of penetration shall not by the reason only of that
fact, be regarded as consenting to the sexual activity.

Exception I.–A medical procedure or intervention shall
not constitute rape.

Exception 2.–Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man
with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years
of age, is not rape.”

76. The explanation (2) and the proviso make it very clear that

consent has to be categorical, unequivocal, voluntary and could be

given by words, gestures or any form of verbal or non-verbal

communication signifying willingness to participate in a specific

sexual act. By way of precaution, a proviso has been added to the

aforesaid explanation namely that a woman who does not physically

resist an act of rape shall not by that reason only be regarded as having

consented to such sexual activity.

77. 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 because it was something which

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 58 of 82
she never wanted. The communication further reads that the

appellant, on that night went too far. 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. Under such circumstances, this Court is required to see as to

what was communicated to the appellant. It is a matter of common

knowledge that different persons have different inclinations for sexual

activity and immediately preceding the act, there are different ways of

people of responding to the advances, entreaties or request.

78. Instances of woman behavior are not unknown that a feeble „no‟

may mean a „yes‟. If the parties are strangers, the same theory may

not be applied. If the parties are in some kind of prohibited

relationship, then also it would be difficult to lay down a general

principle that an emphatic „no‟ would only communicate the intention

of the other party. If one of the parties to the act is a conservative

person and is not exposed to the various ways and systems of the

world, mere reluctance would also amount to negation of any consent.

But same would not be the situation when parties are known to each

other, are persons of letters and are intellectually/academically

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 59 of 82
proficient, and if, in the past, there have been physical contacts. In

such cases, it would be really difficult to decipher whether little or no

resistance and a feeble „no‟, was actually a denial of consent.

79. Section 90 of the IPC reads as hereunder:

“90. Consent known to be given under fear or
misconception.–A consent is not such a consent as it
intended by any section of this Code, if the consent is
given by a person under fear of injury, or under a
misconception of fact, and if the person doing the act
knows, or has reason to believe, that the consent was
given in consequence of such fear or misconception; or
Consent of insane person.–if the consent is given by a
person who, from unsoundness of mind, or intoxication,
is unable to understand the nature and consequence of
that to which he gives his consent; or Consent of child.–
unless the contrary appears from the context, if the
consent is given by a person who is under twelve years of
age.”

80. What the aforesaid section of the IPC mandates is that the

accused must know that the consent which was given was under a fear

of injury or misconception of fact.

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 60 of 82

81. The fact situation with which this Court is faced is like this: The

prosecutrix has come to the house of the appellant on his invitation.

Both the prosecutrix and the appellant have consumed liquor in

varying measures. The appellant has been displaying drunken-cum-

lachrymose behavior from before the arrival of the prosecutrix. The

prosecutrix, out of concern for the appellant, mixes a light drink of

vodka for the appellant. In the immediate past, two of the associates of

the appellant had left the house of the appellant for a brief period, only

to return later. Another person namely Darain Shahidi (DW.3) was

expected to arrive but he disclosed his unwillingness/incapability of

coming to the house of the appellant, which was heard by the

prosecutrix as well. The prosecutrix continues to chat with the

appellant and at times has been asking personal questions regarding

the cause of trouble of the appellant to which the appellant responded

that it was his wife and mother. There are some exchanges between

the parties regarding their being good persons in their individuals

rights. The prosecutrix starts feeling motherly towards the appellant.

Then the appellant communicates his desire to suck her. The

prosecutrix says „No‟ and gives a push but ultimately goes along. In

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 61 of 82
her mind, the prosecutrix remembers a clip from the case of Nirbhaya,

a hapless girl who was brutally raped and killed, when the maelfactor

had declared that if she (Nirbhaya) did not resist, she might have lived.

82. There is no communication regarding this 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. In the mean time, the privacy is disturbed with the ringing

of the door bell and the arrival of the two associates of the appellant.

In such a scenario, when there are two competing claims juxtaposed

each other, the call is difficult.

83. The questions which arise are whether or not there was consent;

whether the appellant mistakenly accepted the moves of the

prosecutrix as consent; whether the feelings of the prosecutrix could

be effectively communicated to the appellant and whether mistaking

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 62 of 82
all this for consent by the appellant is genuine or only a ruse for his

defence. At what point of time and for which particular move, the

appellant did not have the consent of the prosecutrix is not known.

What is the truth of the matter is known to only two persons namely

the appellant and the prosecutrix who have advanced their own

theories/versions.

84. In order to answer the aforesaid questions, it would be

necessary to see what the word “consent”, especially in relation to

sexual activity, connotes. In normal parlance, consent would mean

voluntary agreement of a complainant to engage in sexual activity

without being abused or exploited by coercion or threats. An obvious

ingredients of consent is that, as consent could be given, it could be

revoked at any time; rather any moment. Thus, sexual consent would

be the key factor in defining sexual assault as any sexual activity

without consent would be rape. There is a recent trend of suggesting

various models of sexual consent. The traditional and the most

accepted model would be an “affirmative model” meaning thereby

that “yes” is “yes” and “no” is “no”. There would be some difficulty in

an universal acceptance of the aforesaid model of consent, as in

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 63 of 82
certain cases, there can be an affirmative consent, or a positive denial,

but it may remain underlying/dormant which could lead to confusion

in the mind of the other.

85. In an act of passion, actuated by libido, there could be myriad

circumstances which can surround a consent and it may not

necessarily always mean yes in case of yes or no in case of no.

Everyone is aware that individuals vary in relation to expositing their

feelings. But what has to be understood is that the basis of any sexual

relationship is equality and consent. The normal rule is that the

consent has to be given and it cannot be assumed. However, recent

studies reveal that in reality, most of the sexual interactions are based

on non-verbal communication to initiate and reciprocate consent.

Consent cannot also be analyzed without taking into account the

gender binary. There are differences between how men and women

initiate and reciprocate sexual consent. The normal construct is that

man is the initiator of sexual interaction. He performs the active part

whereas a woman is, by and large, non-verbal. Thus gender relations

also influence sexual consent because man and woman are socialized

into gender roles which influence their perception of sexual

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 64 of 82
relationship and expectation of their specific gender roles with respect

to the relationship. However, in today‟s modern world with equality

being the buzzword, such may not be the situation.

86. Today, it is expected that consent be viewed as a clear and

unambiguous agreement, expressed outwardly through mutually

understandable words or actions. Inheres in it is the capacity to

withdraw the consent by either party at any point of time. Normally,

body language or a non-verbal communication or any previous

activity or passivity and in some cases incapacitation because of

alcohol consumption, may not be taken as consent. However, in the

present case, as has been stated, the appellant has not been

communicated or at least it is not known whether he has been

communicated that there was no consent of the prosecutrix.

87. Another important aspect which is required to be gone into,

especially for the purposes of this case, is whether it would be

necessary for a just decision in this case, to look into the

evidence/circumstances of the display of Rape Trauma Syndrome

(hereinafter called RTS) by the prosecutrix.

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 65 of 82

88. The RTS is the psychological trauma experienced by a rape

victim which includes disruption of normal, physical, emotional,

cognitive and interpersonal behavior. The theory of RTS was first

propounded by a psychiatrist Ann Wolbert Burgess and sociologist

Lynda Lytle Holmstrom in 1974. It was described as a cluster of

psychological and physical science, symptoms and reactions which are

common to most rape victims immediately following and for months

or years after the incident of rape. Three stages have been identified

in RTS: (a) the acute stage, (b) the outer adjustment stage and (c) the

renormalization stage. The acute stage occurs immediately after the

occurrence and it may include disorganized behavioral pattern like

diminished alertness, hysteria, confusion, bewilderment and may be,

extreme sensitivity to the reaction of other people. The second stage

comes when the victim has assumed his/her normal lifestyle but is still

suffering from profound internal turmoil. This stage could last for

several months and could extend to several years also after rape. This

stage is identified with refusal to discuss rape or analyzing why it

happened, a general sense of helplessness, panic attacks and

disassociation meaning, a kind of feeling that one is not attached to

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 66 of 82
one‟s body. The rape victims in this stage can see the world as a more

threatening place to live in. In the renormalization stage, adjustment

begins and the incident no longer remains the central focus in the life

of the victim. The negative feelings of guilt and shame are resolved

and the survivor does not blame herself for the attack.

89. The reaction of the individual to similar fact situations can vary

and, therefore, it cannot be said that a particular conduct of a person,

which is not in conformity with the general conduct of another who,

would be faced with similar circumstance, that such conduct belies

the allegations. It would thus be unfair to the complainant/victim to

judge the veracity of her accusation on the basis of RTS displayed by

her. If a rape victim resorts to an individual/specific coping

mechanism, that ought not to delegitimize her reaction to rape.

90. For the aforesaid reason, this Court does not propose to analyze

the post rape conduct of the prosecutrix as suggested on behalf of the

appellant. Having said so, it can safely be held that the circumstances

which have been suggested by the defence namely: (i) the prosecutrix

not running away from the place of occurrence; (ii) her remaining

present in the house of the appellant for about good 45 minutes post

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 67 of 82
rape; (iii) not divulging about the act to either PW.12 or brother of the

appellant who came along with PW.12 or to the wife of the appellant;

(iv) no communication with the appellant till 30.03.2015; (v) first

communication to the appellant being in the nature of a minor

abjuration; (vi) the prosecutrix booking a MERU cab and cancelling

the same; (vii) going to the restaurant at Hauz Khas; (viii) calling

PW.12 after reaching Hauz Khas hotel; (ix) taking inordinately long

time to register the FIR etc, could be and perhaps are manifestations of

post-rape trauma and disorientation of the prosecutrix.

91. There could be explanation for each of such conduct of the

prosecutrix. The explanation regarding the delay in lodging the FIR

may be bleak but not totally unacceptable. A lady who is a foreign

national and has been violated by a close acquaintance, would require

support of the family and others for fighting litigation in India. The

explanation that only after the prosecutrix could garner the support of

her family and the people of the department, back in the US, gave her

support for her to muster courage to come back to India to lodge the

FIR, is not wholly unacceptable. There cannot be any gainsaying that

if at all the prosecutrix was raped without her consent and will, she

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 68 of 82
would suffer trauma and in that event, her not immediately disclosing

such facts to close acquaintances of the appellant and perhaps the wife

of the appellant is also understandable. That the prosecutrix was

advised by PW.10 not to remain alone, made her go to a restaurant at

Hauz Khas as her roommate was not available in her flat that night, is

also quite explicable. The prosecutrix booking a MERU cab and then

cancelling it, can also not be read as if nothing had happened to her.

Perhaps, for being violated/hurt by a close acquaintance and that also

in his house, prosecutrix may have become disoriented. With the

arrival of PW.12 and the brother of the appellant, the prosecutrix

might have felt safe to stay in the house for some more time but not

safe enough to tell them about the occurrence. She had been

introduced to the aforesaid two persons only in the evening of

28.03.2015 and the prosecutrix cannot be expected to know how they

would react to such fact situation.

92. This Court does not also deem it necessary to go into the details

of the timings suggested by the parties regarding various happenings

as those are only in the nature of guesstimates, though sought to be

corroborated by admissible secondary evidence. Issues regarding

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 69 of 82
timing of the arrival of the prosecutrix in the house of the appellant;

PW-12 leaving house for a brief period and then coming back;

booking of MERU cab by the prosecutrix; timing of texting and

calling PW-10 etc pale into insignificance when it is doubtful as to

whether the appellant had the requisite mental intent of violating the

prosecutrix and whether he had genuinely mistaken some verbal/non

verbal communication as consent and whether the element of fear in

the mind of the prosecutrix was made known or communicated to the

appellant.

93. While saying so, this Court has taken into account that human

memory cannot always be taken to be sacrosanct. Theories

propounded about the concept of a memory indicate that memory does

not work like a video recorder. If a person sees an event, he

sees/receives only fragments of such information from the

circumstance which is sighted. Those fragments are then mixed with

other information from other sources viz any prior information, which

is stored in memory, and some kind of an expectation as to what

would happen, as also, inferences which could be derived from the set

of circumstances or conclusions arrived at after the event has

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 70 of 82
occurred. All these conglomerate into an information which is then

stored in a person‟s memory with respect to that event. It has been

scientifically proved that sometimes, such memory could be accurate

but it may not be necessary that under all circumstances it would be

the same what was perceived by that person. There is no guarantee of

any exactitude about the memory of an incident. Studies in the field

has also revealed that when certain fact gets into the memory of a

person, it does not remain unchangeable. It is highly fluid, which

could change with the passage of time. Whenever a person would

think about an event about which he has some memory or would

revisit mentally the aforesaid circumstance, the stored memory in the

mind changes in some measure. Such changes could take many forms.

Many a times, the memory changes with the belief of the person

having it in his mind and his inferences about the cause of the

occurrence. So far as timings of particular happenings are concerned,

it may not catch the attention of a witness and the memory which is

stored in his mind is only a rough estimate of the time i.e. whether the

occurrence had taken place in the morning, in the early afternoon,

evening or night. There is also a possibility of remembering the

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 71 of 82
happening of a particular event if it is associated with another

happening. As for example, a person having lunch in a restaurant sees

somebody hitting at the waiter leading to his death. The witness may

or may not remember the face of the person or the victim but would

remember that the occurrence had taken place sometimes in the

afternoon when he had visited the restaurant for lunch. However, it

may not be possible for him to remember exactly that the timing of the

occurrence was 1.30 pm or 1.45 pm. There can only be a rough

assessment about the spacing of events which are associated with a

particular happening.

94. The study of memory also tells us that the memory works under

a variety of ways. If a circumstance is identified with a particular

timing say lunch time or dinner time, the memory regarding an

occurrence taking place at the lunch time, after the lunch time or

before the dinner time can be accurate. However, the hunt for

accuracy to the seconds and minutes is nothing but chasing illusion.

95. The Supreme Court in Pragan Singh vs. State of Punjab

Ors.: (2014) 14 SCC 619 had the occasion to examine as to how

memory works and whether there should be complete reliance on such

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 72 of 82
human memory even after a lapse of time. In the aforesaid case, a plea

was raised by the accused persons that the manner in which the

narration was made gave an impression that guess work or conjectures

were being resorted to. It was suggested that the witnesses could not

have remembered the faces of the accused after 7½ years of the

occurrence as memory fades by that time. Though, in that case, the

Supreme Court was of the view that the memory of an eye witness

who had seen the accused persons killing the deceased would not be

easily erased or forgotten more so when the deceased was a friend and

the witness himself had narrowly escaped from being killed. Under

such circumstances, the Supreme Court was of the view that the

memory regarding the face of the accused would be etched in the mind

of the witness for a long time. However, while deciding the aforesaid

case, the Supreme Court dealt with the manner in which the memory

of a person works. In Pragan Singh (Supra), the Supreme Court has

held as hereunder:-

18. Before entering upon the discussion on this aspect
specific to this case, we would like to make some general
observations on the theory of “memory”. Scientific
understanding of how memory works is described by

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 73 of 82
Geoffrey R. Loftus while commenting upon the judgment
dated 16-1-2002 rendered in Javier Suarez
Medina v.Janie Cockrell [ Case No. 01-10763, decided
on 16-1-2002 (5th Cir 2002)] by the United States Court
of Appeals. He has explained that a generally accepted
theory of this process was first explicated in detail by
Neisser (1967) and has been continually refined over the
intervening quarter-century. The basic tenets of the
theory are as follows:

18.1. First, memory does not work like a video recorder.
Instead, when a person witnesses some complex event,
such as a crime, or an accident, or a wedding, or a
basketball game, he or she acquires fragments of
information from the environment. These fragments are
then integrated with other information from other
sources. Examples of such sources are: information
previously stored in memory that leads to prior
expectations about what will happen, and information–
both information from external sources, and information
generated internally in the form of inferences–that is
acquired after the event has occurred. The result of this
amalgamation of information is the person’s memory for
the event. Sometimes this memory is accurate, and other
times it is inaccurate. An initial memory of some event,
once formed, is not “cast in concrete”. Rather, a memory
is a highly fluid entity that changes, sometimes

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 74 of 82
dramatically, with the passage of time. Every time a
witness thinks about some event–revisits his or her
memory of it–the memory changes in some fashion. Such
changes take many forms. For instance, a witness can
make inferences about how things probably happened,
and these inferences become part of the memory. New
information that is consistent with the witness’s beliefs
about what must have happened can be integrated into
the memory. Details that do not seem to fit a coherent
story of what happened can be stripped away. In short,
the memory possessed by the witness at some later point
(e.g. when the witness testifies in court) can be quite
different from the memory that the witness originally
formed at the time of the event.

18.2. Memory researchers study how memory works
using a variety of techniques. A common technique is to
try to identify circumstances under which memory is
inaccurate versus circumstances under which memory is
accurate. These efforts have revealed four major sets of
circumstances under which memory tends to be
inaccurate. The first two sets of circumstances involve
what is happening at the time the to-be-remembered
event is originally experienced, while the second two sets
of circumstances involve things that happen after the
event has ended.

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 75 of 82

18.3. The first set of circumstances involves the state of
the environment at the time the event is experienced.
Examples of poor environmental conditions include poor
lighting, obscured or interrupted vision, and long
viewing distance. To the degree that environmental
conditions are poor, there is relatively poor information
on which to base an initial perception and the memory
that it engenders to begin with. This will ultimately result
in a memory that is at best incomplete and, as will be
described in more detail below, is at worst systematically
distorted.

18.4. The second set of circumstances involves the state
of the observer at the time the event is experienced.
Examples of sub-optimal observer states include high
stress, perceived or directly inflicted violence, viewing
members of different races, and diverted attention. As
with poor environmental factors, this will ultimately
result in a memory that is at best incomplete and, as will
be described in more detail below, is at worst
systematically distorted.

18.5. The third set of circumstances involves what occurs
during the retention interval that intervenes between the
to-be-remembered event and the time the person tries to
remember aspects of the event. Examples of memory-
distorting problems include a lengthy retention interval,

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 76 of 82
which leads to forgetting, and inaccurate information
learned by the person during the retention interval that
can get incorporated into the person’s memory for the
original event.

18.6. The fourth set of circumstances involves errors
introduced at the time of retrieval i.e. at the time the
person is trying to remember what he or she experienced.
Such problems include biased tests and leading
questions. They can lead to a biased report of the
person’s memory and can also potentially change and
bias the memory itself.”

96. The prosecutrix (PW5) can of course be called a sterling

witness as, by and large, the sequence of events narrated/deposed by

her, matches with the evidence of the PW.10 and PW.12. But whether

the allegation of the prosecutrix that the appellant, without her consent

and will, sexually abused her by use of force, is to be believed, is the

question which this Court is beset with.

97. Ms.Vrinda Grover, learned advocate for the prosecutrix has

submitted that the argument of the act being consensual was never

raised by the appellant before the Trial Court and therefore, the

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 77 of 82
appellant would be precluded from advancing such argument at the

stage of the appeal. In support of the aforesaid proposition, attention

has been drawn to the case of Pragan Singh (Supra), which was a

case of murder and the appellants had taken the plea that they had

refused to participate in the TIP because one of the prosecution

witnesses was shown the faces of the appellants in police station after

their arrest. No reason had been assigned by them about their refusal

to participate in the TIP before the Trial Court, either at the time of

refusal or while the statement of the accused was being recorded under

section 313 Cr.P.C., or before the High Court. The Supreme Court

therefore did not permit the aforesaid ground to be taken.

98. The facts of the present case are absolutely different from the

case cited by Ms.Grover.

99. It is well-settled proposition that from the attending

circumstances and the evidence already collected, 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.

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 78 of 82

100. Similarly, the other case law cited by the prosecution viz. Afsal

Ullah vs. State of Uttar Pradesh: AIR 1964 SC 264 also does not

apply to the facts of this case. In the aforesaid case, the Supreme Court

was looking at the validity of bye-laws framed by the

respondent/Municipal Board of Tanda. One of the arguments before

the Supreme Court was that the relevant bye-laws had been passed

malafidely, out of spite and enmity for the appellant. The contention

was that the shop of the appellant was the only shop in the locality and

the concerned bye-law had been passed maliciously in order to hit the

appellant. Since that ground was not taken before the court below, the

Supreme Court did not permit such a plea to be taken in the First

Appeal. Thus, what was held, in the aforesaid case was that plea of

malafides cannot be permitted to be raised afresh at the stage of

appeal. No parallel can be drawn with the facts of the present case.

101. There is yet another aspect of the matter which has caught the

attention of this Court. The wife of the appellant had a chance to read

the communication between the prosecutrix and the appellant and after

coming to know about the alleged incident, she had corresponded with

the prosecutrix wherein she had informed her that the appellant had

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 79 of 82
been under a rehabilitation regimen for his bipolar mental condition.

The prosecutrix had, but rubbished such an explanation by stating that

the occurrence had to do more with the physical power of the

appellant than the mental condition. However, it would be necessary

to know as to what a bipolar disorder in a human being entails. Bipolar

disorder is one of the most severe of the mental illness. It is a brain

disorder which impairs a person‟s mood, energy and basic ability to

function. Symptoms of the mania include increased energy or

restlessness; extreme irritability; inability to concentrate; poor

judgment and at times aggressive behavior. In some cases, impatience

and volatility have also been noticed. There are symptoms of

depression in a person suffering from bipolar disorder. Though no

specific plea has been taken about the bipolar disorder of the appellant

but from the evidence available on record, there appears to be some

hint that the appellant suffered from the same. The appellant has been

stated to be, on the day of the incident, crying and crying so loud and

bitterly that nasal mucus was dripping down till his moustache. This is

how the prosecutrix has described the state of the appellant sometimes

prior to the alleged incident. On the asking of the prosecutrix about the

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 80 of 82
reason for his sadness, the appellant is said to have told her that it

concerns his wife and mother. Though the mental makeup/condition of

the appellant may not be a ground to justify any act which is

prohibited under law, but the same can be taken into consideration

while deciding as to whether the appellant had the correct cognitive

perception to understand the exact import of any communication by

the other person. Since no evidence has been led on this aspect, any

foray into this field would only be fraught with speculative

imagination, which this Court does not intend to undertake.

102. But, it remains in doubt as to whether such an incident, as has

been narrated by the prosecutrix, 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.

103. Under such circumstances, benefit of doubt is necessarily to be

given to the appellant.

104. For the reasons afore-recorded, the judgment and order of

conviction and sentence of the appellant is set aside and the appellant

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 81 of 82
is acquitted of all the charges. The appellant is ordered to be released

forthwith, if not wanted in any other case.

105. The appeal stands allowed.

106. The Trial Court record be returned.

107. A copy of the judgment be transmitted to the Superintendent of

the concerned jail for compliance and record.

Crl.M.B.528/2017 (Suspension of sentence)

1. In view of the appeal having been allowed, the application has
become infructuous.

2. The application is disposed of accordingly.

ASHUTOSH KUMAR, J
SEPTEMBER 25, 2017
ns/ab

Crl.A.944/2016 Page 82 of 82

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