While granting bail to a young engineer accused of rape, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday referred to billionaire Warren Buffet’s observation -- If a lady says 'No', she means 'Maybe’- as an “old hat trick”, and held that the issue of whether a woman really has consented freely “is to be searched by applying the new standards of modern life and the present social scenario”.
Observing that it would not be possible to say exactly how a woman would react to an act of outrage by a man, a bench of Justice Bharati Dangre also said that the concept of consent, or at what stage a woman revoked her consent, could be tested during the trial.
"There cannot be a straight jacket formula as to how a woman will react to an act of outrage by a male, since all women are born into different circumstances in life, go through different things and face, experience and react differently, and necessarily each woman would turn out to be different from the other," Justice Dangre said.
"The concept of consent of the victim, or as to at what stage the consent was revoked and the act of physical indulgence was attempted to be restrained, is a matter of trial," the judge remarked.
The bench was dealing with a bail plea filed by a 25-year-old man from Pune, who has been jailed for raping and outraging the modesty of his friend, a 24-year-old woman, in October 2019. The man was arrested in December 2019 and is in jail since then.
As per the prosecution’s case, the duo, along with other friends, were at a party at Amby Valley (Lonavala), Pune. The man allegedly entered a room where the woman was sleeping after the party, and attempted to rape by denuding her. However, she escaped from the room and the accused followed her into the other room. However, due to strong resistance put up by the woman, the accused ran out of the room.
While considering the facts of the case, Justice Dangre said, "The long-lived notion as expressed in the words of Warren Buffet - If a lady says 'No', she means 'maybe’ -- or in the expression of Rich Santos in Marie Claire - 'Most us guys have been there; the night ends, we invite the girls to come home with us. When a girl says no, we launch into our second and third attempts. Sadly, these attempts are filled with incentives such as promise of guitar playing, fabulous chicken tenders at the diner by my place or even promises: I will definitely call on the next day etc; I have taken girls home after long discussions, changing Nos to Yeses’ -- are the old hat tricks and the issue as to whether the girl really consented freely to a physical indulgence with her is to be searched by applying the new standards of modern life and the present social scenario."
"The freedom guaranteed to a woman to continue with her bodily integrity and autonomy, free from sexual violence, are the emerging concepts which will have to be traversed during the course of a trial. This all can be established during the course of the trial by evaluating the version of the victim in the backdrop of the psychological framework, which would be expounded through a trial," Justice Dangre observed.
The bench further noted the photographs of the victim with the accused, which showed the duo posing in a friendly manner. It also took into account that she did not reveal the first attempt to rape, to her friends and also did not utter a word to her family after reaching home.
The judge said, "Incarceration of a young boy for an indefinite period would be antithesis to the concept of liberty," adding that the probe in the matter has come to an end and that even the chargesheet has been filed.