THE BOMBAY High Court granted bail to a man booked for allegedly having sexual relations with a woman and raping her at the behest of her husband working in Merchant Navy and other offences under the Information Technology Act. Though the woman identified the man, he was granted bail on the grounds that it was not clear when he had a physical relationship with her as the act was done on the prompting of the husband.
A single-judge bench of Justice Prakash D Naik on December 21 passed the order on the bail plea by the accused, booked under sections 376D (gangrape) and 377 (unnatural offences) of the IPC and Section 66E (violation of privacy) of the IT Act. He was arrested on June 18, last year.
The man was accused of raping the woman between 2015 and 2018 and was arrested as a result of an investigation into the woman’s complaint that she was forced by her husband to have sexual relations with other men in his presence.
According to the complaint, she was married to a man working in Merchant Navy and the couple was living separately since September 6, 2015. She alleged that in 2015, when her husband returned from ship, he invited a couple to their house and after consuming alcohol, the husband’s friend sexually assaulted her.
The next day, the complainant’s husband told her that he recorded the act and asked his friend to have sex with her. Similar incidents took place thereafter in 2016 and 2018 at the husband’s behest. The husband, the prime accused, threatened the woman that he would post the video online that forced her to comply.
Advocate Anjali Patil for the applicant submitted that though the incidents took place between 2015 and 2018, there was an inordinate delay in registering an FIR in 2019 and there was no explanation for it. She further submitted that though the complainant identified her client through the identification parade, a vague role was attributed to him and, therefore, offence under Section 376 of the IPC cannot be levelled against him.
The bench observed, “Although the applicant has been identified, it is not clear as to in which incident he is involved. The complaint was lodged belatedly. Prima facie it appears that Section 376 may not be attracted against the applicant. Since the trial is pending, giving such a finding is not warranted. The applicant is in custody for a period of about one-and-a-half years. Hence, a case for grant of bail is made out.”
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