A special fast track court on Saturday convicted filmmaker Mahmood Farooqui of raping a research scholar from the United States in Delhi last year. Additional Sessions Judge Sanjiv Jain found Farooqui — who had been on bail — guilty under IPC Section 376 (punishment for rape), and ordered that he be taken into judicial custody.
The court will hear arguments on sentencing on August 2. The offence of rape entails a minimum punishment of seven years’ rigorous imprisonment and a maximum punishment of imprisonment for life. As of Saturday evening, the detailed conviction order was still awaited.
Farooqui, co-director of the 2010 satirical comedy Peepli (Live), and an exponent of the centuries’ old art of Urdu storytelling called Dastangoi, was accused of raping the 30-year-old research scholar from Columbia University at his home in south Delhi’s Sukhdev Vihar on March 28, 2015.
The woman had first met Farooqui in Varanasi where she had gone in connection with her research on Baba Gorakhnath. In her complaint to Delhi Police, she had alleged that Farooqui had raped her when she had gone to meet him subsequently for help on her research.
“The amendment to the criminal law in 2013 introduced forced oral sex. This is perhaps one of the first cases of forced oral sex, which shows two things: that there was a crime for which we did not earlier have an offence named — now it has been recognised as rape. We’re also very happy to see that the court relied on very credible evidence that the woman gave,” Advocate Vrinda Grover, counsel for the complainant, told The Sunday Express.
During the trial that began on September 9, the woman alleged that after raping her, Farooqui had apologised in several emails that he wrote to her. The email exchanges and call detail records were key pieces of corroborative evidence presented by the prosecution during the trial, besides the testimony of the complainant.
The woman told the court that she had texted — and later, told over the phone — details of the incident to a friend who had introduced her to Farooqui. She told the court that she had WhatsApped the friend about being “upset” with Farooqui, and after sending the messages, had taken a taxi. During the ride, she had spoken to the friend by phone, narrating the incident.
The common friend was a key prosecution witness. He told the court that the complainant had informed him about the alleged sexual assault immediately after the incident, and that on the night of March 28, he had received text messages from her saying that the accused had forced himself upon her.
The complainant told the court that she “did not resist” the rape because she feared she would be killed like the victim of the December 16, 2012 Delhi gangrape. During the final arguments, Advocate Grover had told the court that the complainant knew that if she resisted, the “consequences would be worse”.
“She has stated before this court, during the recording of the evidence, that she was reminded of the documentary of the Nirbhaya case, where the rapist had said that if the victim had not struggled, she would have survived. The accused (Farooqui) applied force and pushed her down. She then froze. She knew if she resisted the rape upon her, the consequence would be worse,” Grover argued.