‘Peepli Live’ co-director Mahmood Farooqui will walk free from Tihar Jail, with the Delhi high court on Monday acquitting him in a rape case involving a United States researcher, saying it remained doubtful whether any such incident took place.
The high court, which analysed the case, gave the film-maker the benefit of doubt and set aside the trial court order that had awarded a seven-year jail term to Farooqui after convicting him for the alleged rape of a 30-year-old American researcher at his south Delhi residence in March 2015.
Justice Ashutosh Kumar asked the Tihar jail authorities to forthwith release Farooqui, who has been in custody since August 4, 2016.
While reading out the operative portion of the verdict, the judge said “the testimony of the victim is not reliable and there are discrepancies.”
In the 82-page judgment, the court said though Farooqui’s mental condition of bipolar disorder may not be a ground to justify any act which is prohibited under law, it can be taken into consideration while deciding whether he had the correct cognitive perception to understand the exact import of any communication by the other person.
It, however, said 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.
“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 her consent, whether the appellant (Farooqui) could discern/understand the same.
“Under such circumstances, benefit of doubt is necessarily to be given to Farooqui,” the court said in its judgement.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, who represented the woman, said they will appeal against the high court order acquitting Farooqui.
Farooqui had challenged his conviction and the sentence given by the trial court.
The woman’s counsel had claimed on March 30, 2015 that Farooqui in his email reply to the woman, had admitted the crime and apologised to her for having committed the act without her consent and against her will.
The high court, however, brushed aside her contention and noted that “what the appellant has been communicated is, even though wrongly and mistakenly, that the prosecutrix is okay with it and has participated in the act.
“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.”
It noted that Farooqui’s wife had read the communication between her husband and the American woman and, after coming to know about the alleged incident, she had corresponded with the prosecutrix and informed her that he had been under a rehabilitation regime for his bipolar mental condition.
The prosecutrix had rubbished such an explanation by stating that the occurrence had to do more with the physical power of the appellant than the mental condition, it noted.
Bipolar disorder, one of the most severe of mental illnesses, is a brain disorder which impairs a person’s mood, energy and the basic ability to function.
A trial court had on August 4 last year sent him to jail for seven years, observing that he had taken advantage of the situation when the victim was alone in his house.
The court, which on July 30, 2016 had held Farooqui guilty of raping the woman in 2015 in a drunken state, had also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on him.
The police had on June 19, 2015, lodged the FIR against Farooqui on the woman’s complaint after which he was arrested.
On July 29, 2015, the police had filed its chargesheet against Farooqui alleging he had raped the research scholar from Columbia University at his Sukhdev Vihar house in South Delhi on March 28, 2015.