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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Ex-P’kula health officer acquitted of rape charges

HT Correspondent  Chandigarh, July 24, 2014
First Published: 12:15 IST(24/7/2014) | Last Updated: 12:22 IST(24/7/2014)

Former Panchkula health officer Dr Lalit Vermani was acquitted of rape charges on the first day of the trial, after the complainant turned hostile.

“Dr Vermani is my close friend and we have been meeting each other often…I was never raped,” said the woman, while deposing before the court of additional district and sessions judge Anshu Shukla, presiding over a special court for crime against women.

She had previously given a handwritten complaint to the police, accusing Vermani of raping her.

However, on Wednesday, she claimed that the police had pressured her to register the complaint.

Based on her statement, the court acquitted 57-year-old Dr Vermani, presently lodged in Burail Jail, since his May 15 arrest.

‘I WAS FRIENDLY WITH VERMANI’

A divorcee and mother of an eight-year-old boy, the woman stated before the court that it was the police who forced her to lodge a complaint. “We have been close friends and used to meet off and on…he never indulged in sexual activity with me [sic],” she said.

“On May 4, we decided to meet at a hotel. We went to Shivalikview and enjoyed the food, spending some time together,” she added.

“As we came out of the hotel, some policemen noticed us. They suspected us and verified our antecedents, but let us go. The next day, the police called me, accused me of indulging in immoral activities and threatened to arrest both of us. Even as I pleaded innocence, the police forced me to lodge a complaint against Vermani. Fearing for my reputation, I wrote down a complaint as dictated by the police wherein he was accused of raping me after giving me intoxicants. Even the statement recorded before the magistrate wherein I reiterated the allegations was given under police pressure.”

THE EARLIER COMPLAINT

In a May 6 handwritten complaint, the 30-year-old woman had accused Vermani of raping her on the pretext of securing a job for her, after mixing sedatives in her juice at a room in a hotel on May 4.

The complainant, hailing from Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh, had alleged that she came in contact with Vermani for seeking treatment from him for a thyroid ailment at his Sector-2 clinic.

She had alleged that she had been taken to Hotel Shivalikview in Sector 17 on May 4 (Sunday) on the pretext of an interview. Vermani had picked up the victim from her rented accommodation in Sector 11 and took her to the hotel room where he offered her a glass of juice laced with intoxicants and raped her when she lost consciousness.

JUSTICE HAS BEEN DONE, SAYS DR VERMANI

“I was falsely implicated. These two-and-a-half months have been traumatising and disturbing for me as well as my family. The case was false and has completely destroyed my reputation,” said Dr Vermani coming out of the court after acquittal. “Justice has been done….I have suffered great trauma in the name of friendship,” he added.

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