New Delhi, Sep 25 The Delhi High Court on Monday acquitted “Peepli Live” co-director Mahmood Farooqui, accused of rape by an American woman, giving him benefit of doubt in the case.
Justice Ashutosh Kumar set aside the trial court order convicting Farooqui and sentencing him to seven years jail in August last year.
The court ordered Superintendent, Tihar Jail, to release him.
“But, it remains in doubt as to whether such an incident, as has been narrated by the prosecutrix (victim), took place and if at all it had taken place, it was without the consent/will of the prosecutrix and if it was without the consent of the prosecutrix, whether the appellant could discern/understand the same,” the court said.
The court said the explanation regarding the delay in lodging the FIR may be bleak but not totally unacceptable.
“The explanation that only after the victim 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,” the court said.
Farooqui had challenged the trial court order in the High Court claiming his innocence.
Farooqui was accused of raping a 35-year-old woman from Columbia University who was in India for research on her doctoral thesis.
The woman, who moved to Delhi in June 2014, was looking for contacts for her work in Gorakhpur and came in contact with Farooqui through a common friend.
The alleged incident occurred on March 28, 2015 when Farooqui invited her for dinner at his house.
The police had on June 19, 2015, lodged the FIR against Farooqui on the woman’s complaint after which he was arrested.
According to the police chargesheet, the woman, who reached his house at 9 p.m., found Farooqui was very intoxicated, and he asked her to go to the other room which was his office.
After 20 minutes, she left the office room to smoke in the porch when he told her to come in and sit down, it said. After talking with her for a while, he suddenly kissed her and forced himself on her, the prosecution said, adding that the woman was scared after the incident.
During the trial, the American researcher stood by her complaint and alleged that Farooqui had raped her, while he denied the allegations, and claimed he was falsely implicated.