The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea challenging a Delhi High Court order granting anticipatory bail to journalist Varun Hiremath, accused of raping a 22-year-old woman, reported Live Law.
In a complaint and statement before a magistrate, the woman alleged that Hiremath had raped her at a five-star hotel in Delhi’s Chanakyapuri area on February 20. After a first information report was registered, the journalist was absconding since February 23. Hiremath was charged under Indian Penal Code Sections 376 (rape), 342 (wrongful confinement), and 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman) on the basis of the woman’s complaint at the Chanakyapuri police station.
On March 12, Delhi’s Patiala House Court had dismissed Hiremath’s bail plea. It had said that consent cannot be implicit from the complainant’s previous sexual encounter with the accused.
In May, the Delhi High Court granted Hiremath an anticipatory bail in the case after the Mumbai-based journalist challenged the lower court’s order, The Print reported. The High Court had observed that insistence on the part of the accused “cannot be construed as coercion or fear”.
After this, the complainant moved the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court’s order.
In her petition, the complainant submitted that the High Court granted bail to Hiremath “by a minute, critical and erroneous assessment” of her statement given to the magistrate, Live Law reported. She added that a “summary evaluation of the nature of consent” was made by the High Court at a stage where Hiremath did not face even a single day of custodial interrogation.
Representing her in Friday’s proceedings, Senior Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan told the court that Hiremath evaded arrest for 50 days and his family left their house, ignoring non-bailable warrants pasted at their home.
She also pointed out to the court that the Indian Penal Code states that “unequivocal consent” has to be there in every sexual act.
“Let us assume a situation, where I disrobe myself, but there is a particular activity man wants to indulge in and I say no to it, and its a penetrative act, it becomes an offence,” Ramakrishnan said.
The court, however, said that the point raised by Ramakrishnan was a “much larger question” and will be decided later.
“Our question is, purely for purpose of bail only,” the bench of Justices Navin Sinha and Ajay Rastogi said. “The question of normal human conduct, behaviour and understanding...If a man and woman are in a room, the man makes a request and the woman complies with it, do we need to say anything more at this stage?”
Even as the complainant’s counsel submitted that the she did not give “continued consent”, the judges said they were not inclined to interfere with the anticipatory bail granted by the High Court.