In its order allowing anticipatory bail to actor Alok Nath, booked for allegedly raping a screenwriter 20 years ago, the Dindoshi sessions court has said that the delay in lodging an FIR leads to the danger of the introduction of “coloured version, exaggerated account”.
Sixty-two-year-old Nath was granted bail on Saturday by the court on a surety of Rs 5 lakh.
The court said that while the screenwriter has submitted before the court that after she read about the #Metoo movement against sexual harassment in October last year, she gathered the courage to report about the incident, it added that she had not lodged the report immediately after the incident due to “her own benefit”.
“So far as the reason to delay in lodging the FIR is concerned, the complainant stated in the report itself that she consulted with her friends regarding lodging of report but they told her that applicant (Nath) is a big actor and all her companies were already shut, therefore no one would believe her story, hence, she did not file the complaint. Thus, nothing on record to show that applicant has given any threat or made any promise for not lodging the report. Thus, it reveals that complainant did not lodge the report immediately after alleged incident of her own benefit,” Additional Sessions Judge S S Oza said in the order.
While the complainant, in her intervention application filed through advocate Dhruti Kapadia, cited various judgments by the Supreme Court on how delays in filing FIRs in such cases cannot be used to doubt the authenticity of the allegations, the court said that a prompt FIR reflects the first hand account of the incident.
“If there is a delay in lodging the FIR, it loses the advantage of spontaneity, danger creeps in the introduction of coloured version, exaggerated account or concocted story as a result of large number of consultations/deliberations,” the court said.
The court added that the screenwriter did not remember when the incident took place. “It is to be noted that complainant has remembered the entire incident but she did not remember the date and month of the incident. In view of all these facts, the possibility cannot be ruled out that the applicant has falsely been enroped in the crime (sic),” it said.
Nath had filed an anticipatory bail plea apprehending arrest after he was booked by the Oshiwara police in November last year under sections 376 (rape) and 377 (unnatural sex) of the IPC. He had claimed that he is a “person of stature” and a renowned film actor and that the complaint against him was filed on the basis of a false report. The prosecution had opposed the plea stating that there is a possibility of him threatening witnesses and not cooperating with the investigation.
According to the complaint, Nath had gone to drop the complainant to her house in 1998 after she felt unwell at a party at his house. She had alleged that he had come to her room and raped her. On October 8 last year, the screenwriter shared this on social media without naming Nath, but thereafter filed a complaint with the Oshiwara police.