Mahmood Farooqui, co-director of ‘Peepli Live’, was convicted of raping a 30-year-old American research scholar from Columbia University, by a special fast track court on Saturday. Farooqui, who had been out on bail, was found guilty under IPC Section 376 and ordered to be taken into judicial custody.
The research scholar had come down to Delhi from the US. She first met Farooqui in Varanasi, where she was conducting research on Baba Gorakhnath. She’d then gone to meet Farooqui for help with her research on 28 March, 2015 at his Sukhdev Vihar home in Delhi, where he raped her.
A 2013 amendment recognized forced oral sex as a criminal offence, which was a crucial part of this case. It is perhaps one of the first forced oral sex cases in India.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, counsel for the complainant, said:
“This is perhaps one of the first cases of forced oral sex, which shows two things: that there was a crime for which we did not earlier have an offence named — now it has been recognised as rape. We’re also very happy to see that the court relied on very credible evidence that the woman gave.”
The trial began on 9 September, 2015. The woman related how, after the rape, Farooqui apologized to her several times via email. Those emails and call details were key pieces of evidence in this case, along with the complainant’s testimony.
After the rape, the woman had texted and spoken to the friend who introduced her to Mahmood Farooqui; this friend corroborated the woman’s story, saying he had been immediately informed and had received text messages saying the accused had forced himself upon the woman.
The woman did not resist the rape because she feared she’d face the same consequences as in the Nirbhaya case of December 2012. Her counsel Grover said:
“She has stated before this court, during the recording of the evidence, that she was reminded of the documentary of the Nirbhaya case, where the rapist had said that if the victim had not struggled, she would have survived. The accused (Farooqui) applied force and pushed her down. She then froze. She knew if she resisted the rape upon her, the consequence would be worse.”
Farooqui’s wife Anusha Rizvi, who also co-directed ‘Peepli Live’ with him, had denied all the allegations.
The court will hear arguments on sentencing on 2 August, 2016. The punishment for rape entails a minimum punishment of seven years’ rigorous imprisonment and a maximum punishment of imprisonment for life.