Monday, October 2, 2023

Allahabad High Court denies bail to man accused of establishing sexual relations with victim after concealing religion

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The Allahabad High Court has rejected the bail application of Chand Babu @ Vishal who has been accused of establishing sexual relations with the victim by making a false promise to marry her after concealing his real religion.

A Single Bench of Justice Saurabh Shyam Shamshery passed this order while hearing a Criminal Misc Bail Application filed by Chand Babu @ Vishal.

The Applicant-Chand Babu alias Vishal has approached the Court by way of filing bail application seeking enlargement on bail in Case under Sections 376(2)(n), 420, 506 IPC and 3/5 U.P Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, Police Station Kotwali, District Bareilly, after rejection of his bail application vide order dated 16.12.2022 passed by Additional Sessions Judge (Fast Track Court), Bareilly.

Victim herself lodged an FIR against the applicant on 25.08.2022 that about five months ago she received a call from a boy (applicant) who introduced himself as Vishal and they started talking with each other. Later on the boy proposed to her. Victim used to visit Bareilly to meet him, where she was repeatedly raped under threat to viral her unsolicited photographs.

Victim further alleged that on 24.08.2022 when the applicant took the victim to a Hotel, she came to know that the boy’s real name is Chand Babu and that he belongs to Muslim religion.

Victim confronted him that why he has introduced himself to be a Hindu boy, thereafter applicant forced victim to convert in Muslim religion, she was again raped there and by luck escaped from Hotel and lodged FIR.

K.K Arora, counsel for the applicant submitted that it is a typical case of honeytrap wherein applicant was trapped by victim and later on she started blackmailing. There is delay in lodging FIR and it would be improbable that despite the victim repeatedly meeting with the applicant, still she does not come to know about the religion of the applicant.

Counsel referred a copy of visitor’s register maintained at Hotel that name of applicant was noted being Chand Babu and name of victim being Neha Khan and as such he submits that victim knew religion of applicant and she in order to conceal her identity, showed herself as a Muslim girl. No alleged unsolicited photographs have been recovered. Victim has not raised any alarm and tried to lodge FIR despite she alleged that she was repeatedly raped for about 4-5 months.

Above submissions are opposed by Sunil Srivastava, AGA for the State and Subhash Chandra Singh, Advocate for the Informant. They submitted that it was a case where the applicant had withheld his religious identity and introduced himself to be a boy belonging to Hindu religion.

He made a physical relationship on false promise of marriage and when it was revealed that he belongs to a different religion and the victim refused to convert herself, he threatened her and tried to discontinue the relationship. Applicant has raped the victim several times by putting victim under threat to put her unsolicited photographs on social media platforms.

The Court noted that,

In the case the main argument of the counsel for applicant was that the applicant was victim of honeytrap, however, there is no material even prima facie in support of this submission except bald assertions.

Applicant is not able to prima facie dispute that he belongs to Muslim religion and victim belongs to Hindu religion. FIR has been lodged under Section 3/5 of U.P Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act also. Victim has specifically stated in FIR as well as in her statements recorded under Sections 161 and 164 Cr.P.C that applicant introduced himself to be a Hindu boy and he repeatedly made physical relationship with her initially with a promise to marry, however, later on, under threat that he would put her unsolicited photographs on social media platforms.

It would be relevant to refer statement of Manager of Hotel recorded during trial that at Hotel a copy of Aadhar card of applicant only was submitted. Signature of the victim was in the name of Seema, therefore, apparently she does not know that her name was shown as Neha Khan in the visitor’s register.

As held in Pramod (supra), if a person since beginning has a mala fide intention to deceive victim, as the case in hand, wherein applicant has introduced himself as a person of different religion to deceive victim and made a promise of marriage to have physical relationship with her, then it would be a case of false promise of marriage.

“In view of above discussion and considering facts of the case, it does not appear to be a case of honeytrap, rather it is a case of trap made by applicant by representing himself to be a person of different religion and trapped victim to have physical relationship against her will and later on under threat of putting her unsolicited photographs on social media platforms”, the Court observed while rejecting the bail application.

However, the Court disposed of the application with direction to Trial Court to record the statement of victim, if not already recorded, within a period of four months, if there is no other legal impediment. Thereafter the applicant is at liberty to file a fresh application for bail before Trial Court.

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