Observing that a 17-year-old who had accused a TV serial choreographer of repeated sexual assault is seen “in a happy mood” posing for a photo at his home on the evening of the day of the first such alleged incident, a sessions court has acquitted the 51-year-old man after he spent three years in custody in the case.
The photo clicked on Aug 16, 2017, was produced by the accused’s lawyer before the court. Special Judge under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act SM Takalikar noted that when the victim was asked in court if the photo was clicked on that particular day, she avoided giving a correct answer.
“Upon perusal of the said photo, it seems that the victim is appearing in a happy mood. She posed for the photo shoot,” the court observed, adding that if the incident as alleged had taken place in the afternoon that day, she would not seem happy in the evening. “Therefore the happening of the incident itself is doubtful,” it stated.
The minor was a neighbour of the choreographer in Delhi. In her complaint filed with 22 months delay, she had stated that she was interested in acting and films since school and the choreographer who had later shifted to Mumbai with his daughters, had asked her father to send her to Mumbai as there is a company giving an opportunity to new talent.
She came to Mumbai to live with the family in a western suburb and said she learnt that no such company existed. She alleged he sexually assaulted her repeatedly and threatened her with the video of the first sexual assault, which he committed by mixing something with water and forcing her to drink it.
The man had told the court in his defence that there was a dispute between him and the victim over money to be paid to her for her work and that he was hence falsely implicated.
The court also said the delay in lodging the complaint raises doubt. The accused’s lawyer had shown the court that after 26 days of the alleged first incident she had gone to her parent's home in Delhi, for which the accused himself had made a reservation.
The court noted that she stayed with her parents for 20 days then and did not state anything about the incidents to them. It further noted that she then returned to live with the accused in Mumbai and if such an incident as alleged had taken place, she would not have returned.
It also noted that she went with the accused, his daughters and a friend to Jabalpur to celebrate the new year 2018 and they enjoyed and had fun there. Under such circumstances, it said that it is difficult to believe that he was repeatedly sexually assaulting her. It said that the victim’s testimony does not appear reliable and trustworthy.