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Man accused of rape granted bail on grounds of consensual relationship : Karnataka High Court

The issue whether a man accused of raping a female co-worker after assuring to marry her was brought before a bench of Karnataka High Court consisting of Justice Sreenivas Harish Kumar in the matters between Manoj Kumar M R v. State of Karnataka and Ors. CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1933 OF 2022 decided on 13.1.2022.

The facts of this case are the allegations against the appellant were that while working as an executive at Bajaj Finance Ltd. where he met the second defendant, who worked for the same company. As their relationship developed, he forced her into sexual relations with him after he said he loved her and would marry her and continued the sexual relationship, threatening to upload candid videos on social media. Defendant became pregnant twice in the next two years and was forced by the appellant to terminate both pregnancies. The appellant said he would not marry her because she belonged to the “Madiga” caste and tried to strangle her with a charging cable. Out of desperation, she later tried to end her own life. Later, the victim filed a complaint with the police.The man was booked under section 376 ,313,307 and 417 of IPC and offences under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The contentions on behalf of the appellant were the close relationship between the appellant and the second defendant was purely consensual. Both presented themselves as husband and wife to terminate the pregnancies, and the woman consented to the procedure. As a 27-year-old woman, she knew the consequences of what she had done. Furthermore, the appellant contacted Vanitha Sahayavani, a community cooperation and helpline of Bengaluru City Police, in August 2021.It was stated that the FIR was considered an afterthought since there was a delay of approximately 2 months in the last alleged incident and the complaint to the police. Given these facts and circumstances of the case and the investigation of the case has already been completed, the appellant should be released on bail.

The contentions on behalf of the respondent were that the victim was forced into sexual intercourse with the appellant through threats and her pregnancy was forcibly terminated. The relationship was developed under the guise of a false promise of marriage. When the appellant learned of the victim’s caste, she refused to marry him, which was an offense under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. As to the allegations that the appellant had deliberately refused to marry the victim and subsequently tried to commit suicide, the Court observed that it was unclear why he had been waiting for nearly 2 months, if the case was true. He could only have turned to the police when he realized rather the appellant had filed a complaint against Vanitha Sahayavani.

The Karnataka High Court held that the woman is 27 years old and apparently they voluntarily terminated her second pregnancy, she knew the consequences of having sex with the appellant. It is not difficult to conclude that the appellant was able to resolve the case for bail to be granted. The Special Court should have taken these aspects into account when deciding on the bail application. It seems that the following Court very routinely concludes that the appellant denied bail. The man was released on two hundred thousand rupees bail and was told not to threaten witnesses, falsify evidence, or influence the woman. He was ordered to appear before the court when necessary and not to commit another crime.

 Click here to read the judgment

Judgement reviewed by Bhaswati Goldar

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