New Delhi: In a span of nearly 14 months, a 20-year-old undergraduate student in Gurugram has filed seven rape cases against seven different men at seven police stations. Three of these cases have already been closed, and questions are now being raised about the authenticity of the charges in the others.
On 26 October, the Haryana State Commission for Women wrote a letter to the state’s Director General of Police (DGP), P.K. Agarwal, demanding a special investigation team probe into the matter, alleging that these cases are “false”. The commission’s move came after a complaint by activist and filmmaker Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj. ThePrint has accessed both the letter to the DGP and the complaint.
Speaking to ThePrint, DGP Agarwal confirmed that he has received a letter from the Haryana women’s panel and also a report from the Commissioner of Police, Gurugram, on the matter.
“In a couple of days, we will get all facts and reports examined and take suitable action accordingly,” he said on 30 October.
However, the woman denied that the seven rape cases she filed between September 2020 and October 2021 under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), as well as a domestic abuse case, are “false”.
“I haven’t done anything wrong and I won’t take back any of my cases, no matter what happens. All of these men used me. They came to me, made me trust them, had physical relationships with me, made false promises and later, broke it all off. How am I the one in question here?” the woman told ThePrint over the phone.
“They say I create a ruckus, I go to people’s homes, I go crazy, but let me tell you, no one likes doing all of this. They compelled me to behave in a certain way. I have a younger brother at home to look after. I would never do this. None of the complaints are fake,” she insisted.
The woman lives in Gurugram with her mother, who is a school teacher, and a younger brother, who is finishing school.
Three cases closed
Out of the seven rape cases the woman has filed, three have been closed, including one in which she changed her statement, investigating officers of the respective cases confirmed to ThePrint.
“The complaints, allegations and evidence provided were found to be false. Therefore, the three cases were closed as there was no evidence of rape found,” said a senior Gurugram police officer who didn’t wish to be named.
In two of the closed cases, notices have been issued against the woman to appear before the court on 10 November and 2 December under section 182 (false information, with intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person) of the IPC. Both have been accessed by ThePrint.
In the third case, the investigating officer said the police have submitted the report before the court and are awaiting proceedings — issuance of notice under section 182 of the IPC against the woman.
Here’s a detailed look at all the seven cases, including four that are currently under scrutiny, and the domestic abuse case.
7 September 2020
Speaking to ThePrint, the 20-year-old woman said she filed the first FIR against a man on 7 September last year at Rajendra Park police station, but didn’t record a statement in front of the magistrate (164 CrPC) due to parental and other pressures, and hence the case was closed.
“I was told that my career would be spoiled,” she said.
Asked why she lodged the complaint in the first place, she said, “He had promised marriage, we had physical relationship but I knew that we cannot get married because he is a Muslim. So I changed my statement in front of the magistrate.”
Senior officers in the know of the case confirmed her version. “The closure report was filed and 182 IPC (notice) has been issued against her after the case was closed,” said a senior officer who didn’t wish to be named.
The accused was detained for questioning for a day, but was subsequently released following the woman’s denial of rape.
7 November 2020
Exactly two months after she filed the first case, the woman lodged another FIR against a second man at Sadar police station. The man was arrested on 8 November and was granted bail nine months later, in August this year.
In her FIR, accessed by ThePrint, the woman alleged that the accused had repeated sexual relations with her on the pretext of marriage. She said he took her to look for rented accommodation in DLF City Phase-3 in Gurugram. She also claimed that the accused was earlier lodged in Bhondsi jail in 2019 in an assault case, and stayed in custody for 14 days.
The two had met in a gym in September, the complainant claimed.
“He lied to me that he will get married to me, even took me to the court and then took me to look for a rented accommodation for us. He then asked me to pack my things and said he is going to do the same. When I left home and called him, his number was switched off,” she said in the FIR.
The matter is pending before a court now. The next date of hearing is 12 November.
8 March 2021
The woman lodged an FIR against a third man at Sector 5 police station in March this year.
She claimed to have met this man for the first time a week earlier, on 1 March, at a lawyer’s chambers. He told her that he met the second man, whom she accused of rape in November, when he was in jail in an alleged extortion case. She showed him the photo of the man to confirm this.
This man asked her to withdraw her complaint against the second man. There was an argument over this between the two, she claimed. They met later to discuss the issue and bonded. “He told me that he will marry me, and took me to Sangam hotel and we had a physical relationship. But later a woman, his wife, abused me and asked me to stay away from him,” she said.
When she tried to confront the third man about his false claim of being unmarried, he allegedly dragged her from the location of his business to the police station but then ran away. “I went inside and lodged a complaint,” she claimed.
The third man was arrested and was later granted bail on 2 July. The next hearing in the case is on 2 November.
8 April 2021
The woman lodged a fourth FIR at Gurugram City police station, accusing a fourth man of rape.
In her complaint, a copy of which is with ThePrint, the woman said the accused’s family and her family are known to each other. She accused him of having sexual relationship with her on “false pretext” of marriage. She added that the accused indulges in substance abuse, and mentally harassed her.
This case has been closed and a notice under IPC section 182 has been issued against her. Police officers investigating the case said they found her allegations to be false. A report on cancellation of the FIR was filed on 12 June.
13 June 2021
In her fifth FIR at the New Colony police station, the 20-year-old woman accused a fifth man, saying he is a friend of the accused in the fourth case.
“The said man, friend of the accused in the 8 April case, tried talking to me on Snapchat. He asked me to meet him and when we hung out, we consumed joints, and had beer after which he took advantage of me in a car. He promised he would marry me,” she said in the complaint.
“He refused to keep his promise and told me that nothing happened in the fourth complaint, so what can I do to him,” she said.
The investigating officer in this case, who didn’t wish to be named, said that two months of probe revealed the accusation to be false. A closure report was later submitted in court.
25 June 2021
In her sixth FIR at Sector 10 police station, the woman alleged that a sixth man had initially told her that he would help her in the fifth case.
“He said he would help me get the other accused arrested, who was absconding at that time in Kasol. He asked me to meet him at night on 24 June and we smoked joints in the car. He made me believe that I can trust him and told me in the morning that he is going to get some money from home to take me to an Oyo room,” she said in the FIR.
“He made me take drugs in the room and then forcefully had a physical relationship with me. He later ran away from the hotel,” she added.
The sixth man was arrested on 2 July and is in judicial custody now. The next hearing in the case is on 11 November.
Marriage and a domestic violence case
On 24 August 2021, the woman ‘married’ a man named Mahesh in an Arya Samaj temple, within three days of meeting him on a dating platform called ‘Happn’. The marriage isn’t registered in court, both of them confirmed to ThePrint.
However, a couple of days after the wedding, the two parted ways, with the woman alleging that the man hit her. A domestic violence case was lodged against Mahesh on 4 September. The next hearing date is 8 November.
Mahesh told ThePrint that the woman had allegedly “blackmailed” him into marrying her. “She said she would file a rape case against me so I had to marry her,” he said.
The woman, however, claimed it was Mahesh who had tortured her and blackmailed her to marry him and caused a ruckus in front of her house. The woman shared images of her injuries, which she alleged were caused by Mahesh. Mahesh denied these charges.
24 October 2021
Last month, the woman filed a seventh FIR, accusing a seventh man of rape, at DLF Phase 3 police station.
“The man was living in our rented accommodation for a while and we started talking. We started seeing each other. We met on 17 October at Ambience Mall. He manipulated me saying he will marry me and took me to Leela Ambience hotel and raped me,” she said.
“After a couple of days, he started fighting with me and threatened me that he has made some videos of me and will post them on social media. His brother also abused me,” she claimed.
Asked about details on arrests in the case, a senior officer in the know of the case said, “The investigation in the matter is on.”
The woman alleged that the men she filed FIRs against in cases 4,5 and 6 are known to one another, adding that they took “revenge” on her.
Debate around sex on pretext of marriage
In her complaint against the woman, filmmaker Deepika Bhardwaj alleged that the woman went outside the houses of these men and “abused them, created ruckus”.
Bhardwaj said some of these accused men “have been on the verge of suicide”. She also accused the 20-year-old of demanding money from some men.
“A perusal of all her rape complaints testify that she uses the same allegation against all men — that they promised to marry her but eventually did not marry her,” Bhardwaj’s complaint to Haryana State Women’s Commission reads.
“Several lives are being destroyed because of such abuse of laws. There are two cases in which police has filed IPC 182 case against her but she remains scot-free and continues to implicate more men in rape cases,” the complaint.
Senior advocate Geeta Luthra noted in terms of the larger debate around such cases that many times, a woman and a man could have had a consensual relationship.
“In some cases, there may be a contemplation that in future they may get married to each other; at other times it is possible that they weren’t contemplating and that the relationship may be casual. It depends a lot on the social ethos of the girl and the boy and not of their families as very frequently parents may be conservative but two friends of opposite sex may not be so conservative,” she said.
“Rape cases should be considered under two criteria — one, when it is a complete stranger or a person with whom there is no friendship and relationship; second, in which it may have a semblance of a consensual relationship,” said Luthra.
“One cannot compare two such cases, nor can you have the same criteria for punishment in both those kinds of cases. Such relationships which have a consensual background or ethos normally should be cases where there should be a trial but bail should be considered favourably by the court based on such facts,” she added.
Supreme Court advocate Anas Tanwir highlighted the apex court’s Karnataka v Uday judgment (February 2003), which said that “if a man is indulging in sexual relationship with a woman under false promises of marriage and the woman here, believes that he will marry her someday, then it tantamounts to rape”.
“However, rape on the pretext of marriage isn’t a statutory crime, it comes from a judicial decision,” he said.
“This judgment was passed to protect women with sensibility that they will only have sexual relations with men who will eventually marry them. This judgement forms the basis of the rape on the false pretext of marriage, but it is also a fact that this provision has become an object of misuse, especially in cases of bad break-ups. Perhaps there is a need for a higher degree of proof,” Tanwir said.
“In these cases, medical tests won’t prove that there was a false promise; it is mostly circumstantial,” he added.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)