HC rejects bail plea of man held for ‘raping and blackmailing’ FB friend

The Bombay High Court has rejected the bail application of a man who was booked in July last year “for falsely claiming himself to be unmarried and befriending a woman from Pune through Facebook and taking undue advantage of her disturbed married life as her husband was in foreign country.”

The prosecution claimed that the man travelled from Punjab to Pune and sexually assaulted the woman. The man was also booked for blackmailing the complainant based on her nude photographs and videos, and extorting money and jewellery from the victim.

The bench observed that the applicant “appears to be of having criminal mentality in the matter of commissioning of similar offences.” The Court rejected his bail plea, stating that the woman had permitted the man to establish physical relationship based on his promise to marry her, therefore the prosecution rightly invoked provisions of Section 376 (punishment for rape) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against him.

A single-judge bench of Justice Nitin W Sambre earlier this month passed an order, in response to a plea by the accused, who was arrested by Pune Police under various provisions of IPC and Information Technology (IT) Act on July 19 last year for incidents which commenced from June 2019.

Advocate Dinesh P Adsule for the applicant referred to the complaint made to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Cyber Crime, which included chats between the applicant and the complainant along with various photographs, and submitted that offence of rape was not made out based on the same. Adsule submitted that the said photographs and videos were taken by his client with the consent of the victim and the pen drive containing such material was delivered or seized from her custody.

The applicant further submitted that the victim had invited the accused from Punjab to Pune and they had stayed together for almost two years. As the investigation is over, with the chargesheet being filed and in absence of antecedents, the applicant deserved to be released on bail, Adsule argued. Assistant Public Prosecutor Geeta Mulekar for Pune Police opposed the plea.

The court noted that the applicant was married, there was matrimonial discord in his life and he developed a friendship with the victim through social media Justice Sambre observed, “The applicant, having realised that the victim is a single woman as her husband was residing in foreign country, started visiting her place at Pune, promised her of marriage as her matrimonial life was also disturbed and extorted not only money but also jewellery. Taking undue advantage of the loneliness of the victim, the applicant has taken nude photographs and videos and made them viral on WhatsApp. This conduct has maligned the image of the victim as she is not able to face the society at large.”

The judge also noted that the chat between the complainant and applicant, which is part of the chargesheet, “categorically establishes the case of the prosecution”. The Court said the statement of another victim narrated “similar fate at the hands of the applicant” and he appears to be having a criminal mentality in committing similar offences.

“That being so, no case for bail is made out. The application stands rejected,” it held.

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