The case of a law student turning hostile after accusing a BJP MP of rape last year can lead to serious legal consequences for her, even as the accused may not be completely let off the hook. The MP, Chinmayanand, 72, was arrested last year and was granted bail in February.
In the special court, set up on the directions of the Allahabad High Court, the student refused to accept any of the allegations that she had made. After she turned hostile, the prosecution made an appeal to file a case under Section 340 of CrPc (false claim and false prosecution in a case) against the student.
The Supreme Court in February this year ruled that a rape accused cannot be convicted on the basis of sole testimony of the victim unless it is “absolutely trustworthy, unblemished and of sterling quality”. A bench noted that while ordinarily the sole testimony of the victim was enough to convict an accused of rape, it could not lose sight of the protection of the accused against false implication.
In a 2018 order, the Supreme Court had said acquitting rape accused individuals merely because the survivor has turned hostile and failed to identify him in the dock, would indeed be a “travesty of justice.” The court had then affirmed the conviction of a rape accused.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Navin Sinha and KM Joseph said that a person could be convicted even after the rape victim gave a clean chit to the accused on the basis of other evidences including the medical report. It awarded 10-year imprisonment to an accused in a rape case even after the victim had turned hostile and took the stand that she was not raped.
Then there is a 2019 case of a 45-year-old woman in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district. She was sent to jail and fined for turning hostile in court during the trial of three men accused of raping her daughter.
The woman had lodged a case against a man she accused of kidnapping and raping her daughter in 2017. In her statement before a magistrate, the girl accused two more men of raping her. Police arrested the three and filed a charge sheet against them under sections of the Pocso Act and IPC.
“During trial, the woman said her daughter was neither kidnapped nor raped…She even claimed that the girl was not a minor when the FIR was registered. She said she is illiterate and didn’t know the contents of the FIR,” the prosecutor said. The three suspects were then acquitted on and on the request of the prosecution, proceedings under section 193 (false evidence) of the IPC were launched against the woman. The Pocso (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) court judge Sukesh Kumar Jain declared the woman guilty and sent her to jail.
In the present case, the law student, enrolled in one of Chinmayanand’s educational institutions at Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur had accused him of sexually exploiting her for over a year. The complainant has been asked to reply to the prosecution’s appeal. The next hearing in the case will be held on Wednesday.
The law student had filed an FIR against Chinmayanand last year on September 5, nearly a week after her father had alleged that she had gone missing; the family had accused Chinmayanand of harassment. The former Union minister was arrested on September 20, 2019.
Soon after his arrest, the 23-year-old woman was also taken into custody on charges of trying to extort an amount of ₹ 5 crore from the former BJP minister.
Earlier this year, Chinmayanand was granted bail by the High Court that suggested a ‘quid pro quo’ between the accused politician and the young woman and that they used each other.
In the February order, Justice Rahul Chaturvedi of the High Court had expressed astonishment that a “girl whose virginity is at stake” did not tell her parents or any judicial body about the sexual exploitation she was subjected to at the hands of the former politician.
In March, the Supreme Court refused to cancel the bail granted to the MP, stressing that there is “no need to interfere” with the Allahabad High Court order.