A court here in Maharashtra has acquitted a 56-year-old man of charges of raping his driver's wife, observing that a "consensual physical relationship" does not amount to rape.
Additional Sessions Judge R R Vaishnav, in his order last Thursday, said the prosecution miserably failed to prove charges of rape against the accused, Dilip Shridhar Patil, a brick kiln owner.
According to the prosecution, the woman's husband worked as a driver for the accused. She got acquainted with the accused as he used to come to their house.
In 2013, the accused called the woman to a lodge at Akloli in Bhiwandi town of Thane district. When she refused, he threatened her with dire consequences following which she went to the lodge where he raped her, the prosecution said.
Thereafter, he allegedly raped her on several occasions. When she resisted his advances, he threatened to defame her and remove her husband from the job.
After the death of her husband in 2014, the accused raped her several times and also gave her some money. Fed up of the ordeal, the woman filed a police complaint against the accused, the prosecution told the court.
The judge observed that the woman in her deposition said she did not want to proceed against the accused.
During her cross-examination, she admitted that there was consensual intercourse between her and the accused, hence she wanted to withdraw the case against him, he noted.
The woman further admitted that since her brother's wife came to know about the relationship, she lodged a complaint against the accused.
"By these admissions, the victim has falsified the prosecution story," the judge said.
He said Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines rape as "sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent".
An inference of consent can be drawn only on the basis of evidence and probability of the case, the judge said.
"The consent denotes an active will in the mind of the person to permit the doing of the act complained of ... there is a clear distinction between rape and consensual sex. In this regard, the victim's admission is more important," he said.
It is clear from the victim's admission that had her brother's wife not come to know about the relationship, she would not have lodged the complaint against the accused.
"Thus, the victim's admission leads to the conclusion that the alleged intercourse was not an act of rape, but sexual intercourse with the consent of the victim and the accused, who needs to be acquitted," he said.
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