In a surprising turn of events, Dr Lalit Vermani, former District Health Officer of Panchkula, was acquitted of the charge of rape on the very first hearing of the case on Wednesday, when the complainant turned hostile and accused the police of making up a false case.
However, Additional District and Sessions Judge Anshu Shukla, who passed the order, slammed the complainant for going back on the allegations which she had made not only in the FIR, but also in a statement before a magistrate.
According to the FIR of the case, the woman had alleged that Dr Vermani raped her in Hotel Shivalikview after drugging her on May 4. She had said that she went to the hotel because Dr Vermani promised to arrange a meeting with a man who could provide her a job.
However, on Wednesday, she not only denied rape, but said that she and Dr Vermani were old friends who used to meet off and on, but never indulged in sexual activity, according to defence counsel Rabindra Pandit.
As soon as the acquittal was announced, Dr Vermani’s family members burst into tears and thanked their counsel. A much relieved Dr Vermani, who had been brought from jail for the hearing, said, “I have suffered great trauma in the name of friendship. I was innocent and in great mental trauma.”
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Rabindra Pandit said the woman told the court that on May 4, they went to Hotel Shivalikview after she had called Dr Vermani to meet her. They booked a room, ate snacks and lunch, spent a few hours talking and came out.
At this point, the police saw them, they suspected that the two were involved in some undesirable activity and tried to verify their antecedents, said the woman.
She said that the next day, the police called her, said that she and Dr Vermani had indulged in sexual activity and that they both would be arrested for immoral activity. When she pleaded innocence, she was asked to give a complaint of rape, said the woman.
Pandit said, “The complainant said that she was pressurised by the police to give a complaint and make a statement in the presence of magistrate. However, she did not name any police official when the judge asked her.”
Counsel said that that every time the victim deviated from her original statement, the judge slammed her and, at one point, asked what she had gained from ruining a family man’s reputation. The judge asked her to name the police official who pressurised her, but the woman did not name anyone.
The court also recorded the statement of the investigating officer Sub-Inspector Jaswinder Kaur, who said that the woman had come to the police station on her own.