The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea challenging the Delhi High Court’s grant of pre-arrest bail to journalist Varun Hiremath. The petition was filed by the 22-year-old woman who has accused the journalist of raping her.
A bench of Justices Navin Sinha and Ajay Rastogi said they “did not find any reason to interfere” in the matter.
Hiremath is accused of raping the woman in a Delhi hotel on February 20. He was by the high court on May 13.
After the journalist went absconding in late February, the Delhi police accused him of “evading the investigation”. His anticipatory bail plea was dismissed on March 12 by a lower court, which issued an arrest warrant for him as well. On April 9, the high court gave him interim protection from arrest and Hiremath joined the investigation.
Appearing for the complainant, senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, argued that the high court gave Hiremath the “benefit of doubt'' based on “selective reading” of the Section 164 statement.
The Supreme Court, however, insisted on listing specific reasons for dismissing Hiremath’s bail. “Our question is purely for the purpose of bail only,” the bench said, adding that this matter was a question of “normal human conduct and understanding”. “If a man and woman are in a room, and man makes a request and woman complies with it, do we need to say anything more at this stage?” the bench asked.
Ramakrishnan objected to the court’s observation by stating that there was no consent since the victim said “no” multiple times. “Semantic inference has been drawn between ‘insistence’ vs ‘force’. She said no multiple times, she vomited all over him. He grabbed her hair and forced himself on her. When she said ‘no’, he penetrated her forcibly.”
She said the victim had been “honest” and at some point it was “indicated that she didn't want it”. "It was not a state of continued consent. Penetrative act which constitutes offence was entirely without her consent,” she argued. “Why should he not comply with even one day of custodial interrogation?”
The bench, however, responded that this was a “much larger question” that will be “decided later”. “We have repeatedly emphasised that whatever we are saying is for the purpose of cancellation of bail only,” they said. The court then declared that they did not find “any reason to interfere” and dismissed the plea.