In yet another incidence of higher courts acquitting the accused honorably, Movie ‘Peepli Live’ co-director Mahmood Farooqui was acquitted by the Delhi High Court in connection with the infamous US researcher rape case. But the larger question in such cases remains, “Is the Justice Served”.
In the context of this case, the High Court raised doubts about the veracity of the incident and the complaint.
The complaint had been filed by the victim several weeks after the alleged incident took place. The trial court had convicted Farouqui of rape under the new rape laws enacted in 2013 and imposed the minimum of seven-year punishment. Following that, Farooqui appealed against his seven-year jail term.
High Court however gave benefit of doubt because of the delay in the FIR and questioned whether the incident had happened without consent or whether the accused understood the consent.
Justice Ashutosh Kumar had reserved the verdict on September 1 after hearing arguments of the counsel for the State and Farooqui.
A trial court had on August 4 last year sent him to jail for seven years, observing that he had taken advantage of the situation when the victim was alone in his house.
The court, which on July 30, 2016 had held Farooqui guilty of raping the American woman in 2015 in a drunken state, had also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on him.
The police had on June 19, 2015, lodged the FIR against Farooqui on the woman’s complaint after which he was arrested.
On July 29, 2015 the police had filed its charge sheet against Farooqui alleging he had raped the research scholar from Columbia University at his Sukhdev Vihar house in South Delhi on March 28, 2015.
With this incident where even though Farooqui gets off with a clean chit from the High Court, the old debate and demands oft repeated by the civil society and the public at large remains unanswered. So “Is The Justice Served?”
After years of public slander, loss of face and social standing in the society as a rapist, plus scores of stigmas that get attached and suffered both by the individual and his family, Does the Acquittal serve the entire purpose of a Justice system that the latter was designed for.
Moreover its not the only case in isolation. There have been cases of people coming out clean after decades of incarceration and leveling of serious accusations like “Terrorism” and “Murder”
Questions have been raised time and again on the efficacy of the Police Departments, which carries the major onus of the process in the long journey for Justice to prevail.
Does any of the earlier reprimands and severe reprimands that the Police Departments and the state administrations earned at the hands of higher courts serve any purpose or has it become a tool in the hands of the state to harass individuals with impunity.
Even though the public opinion is heavily tilted to enact laws to deal with such faulty and botched up investigations that often lead to harassment of innocents while completing the entire cycle of justice, no effective laws have been formulated till date. Laws that could instill fear and act as a preventive measure to avert situations where investigations are conducted with casualness and least responsibility, without any fear of getting penalized even when Courts find faults with such investigations.
Many are of the view that unless the Courts, in such cases of acquittals where the accused suffers for no fault of his/her, starts holding people and parties involved accountable with strict simultaneous penalties and strictures with pecuniary effects, being passed for immediate compliance, the menace will continue to haunt the society across all sections.
It is thus a matter of your time, luck and stars till one fine day, you yourself find embroiled in such an eventuality, only to be found and proven innocent a decade later.