Nearly three years after a trial court held them guilty of raping a woman, the Bombay High Court recently acquitted two men of the charges after observing that the act was consensual. The court also held that there was no conclusive evidence to nail the accused. The men and the woman hail from Washing district.
As per the prosecution case, two women had gone to watch a film on September 12, 2008 on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi. Since there was a power cut, they decided to head home. However, they were abducted by accused Subhash Ambore, 37, Gajanan Chibhade, 19, and two minors mid-way and taken near a cattle pond.
The prosecution said one of the women managed to free herself. The four men then raped the victim. She alleged that she kept crying for nearly two hours but no one came to her rescue. The four allegedly threatened her with dire consequences if she talked about the assault to anyone.
After returning home, the woman narrated the incident, prompting her mother to approach file a complaint the next day. While the Malegaon police arrested all four, the minors were sent to the juvenile justice board for their trial.
During the trial of Ambore and Chibhade at a sessions court, the prosecution examined seven witnesses, including the victim. The medical report though was found to be inconclusive. However, the trial court after going through the evidence held the two guilty in May 2011.
In their appeal against the conviction, Ambore and Chibhade contended in the HC that the woman had consented to the act.
The HC, after considering the material and circumstances presented before it, concluded that the alleged crime spot was closer to the village where people were residing and the police had failed to record the statements of the villagers to prove that the woman had raised an alarm. Further, there were no injury marks on her body, indicating that she had offered no resistance, held the court.
Justice M L Tahliyani observed, "In view of this, I find it highly risky to put implicit trust on the evidence of the victim. In my considered opinion the trial judge should have rejected the evidence of the victim."