The Bombay high court held that delay in lodging the first information report (FIR) by a rape survivor cannot be a ground for acquittal of the accused.
In a recent order, a division bench of justice Ranjit More and justice AP Bhangale held that there may be several reasons that could dissuade a survivor from approaching the police immediately after the incident and any such delay cannot lead to the accused being discharged.
The order came while the bench was listening to a discharge petition filed by an aspiring model, accused of raping a 24-year-old woman in Oshiwara in February this year. According to the police records, while the incident took place on February 6, the FIR was registered on February 18.
The accused, Mohsin Syed, had approached HC seeking that all charges be quashed as they were false. He said the fact that the woman had filed an FIR after more than a week and that the police was yet to complete its investigations proved that the charges against him were motivated.
The bench, however, junked Syed’s plea saying the delay in investigations was condemnable, but it did not prove that the charges against him were motivated. It, however, directed the Oshiwara police to expedite its investigation.
“The FIR registered in the matter reveals that the accused is charged under the stringent section 376 of the IPC for the commission of the offence of rape. We are, therefore, not inclined to interfere. The counsel for the state has pledged to ensure that investigation into this FIR will be completed expeditiously and charge sheet will be filed within four weeks from today. The statement is accepted. In the above circumstances, we find that there is no merit in the petition,” the bench said.
The HC order is in line with a previous Supreme Court order that had also held that often rape survivors are reluctant to come forward either because they are scared, or fear for the honour of their family.
At the time of filing the FIR, the woman had told the Oshiwara police that she was “extremely scared” after the incident and had not even informed her family members immediately.
She told the police she had met the accused in a gym few months before the incident and they became friends.
On February 6, he visited her home while she was alone and then raped her, she alleged.