NH EXCLUSIVE ‘Sextortion racket’: Law catches up with Gurugram woman; thrown behind bars, bail plea rejected
In a rare such instance, Haryana State Women’s Commission (HSWC) had asked DGP, Haryana to constitute a SIT to probe how she managed to lodge as many as 8 rape FIRs against different men in Gurugram
A 21-year-old resident of Gurugram at whose behest FIRs were lodged against as many as eight different men in different police stations in Gurugram over a span of a few months, charging all of them with having raped her, as reported exclusively by National Herald on November 11, will continue to remain behind bars in Bhondsi jail following rejection of her bail plea.
She was taken into custody on December 29 by Gurugram Police following an FIR lodged against her at the behest of a Karnal-based woman whose son too was booked for rape by her while he was staying in Gurugram after an alleged attempt to extort money from him.
Following this, she was produced before a magistrate who remanded her to 14 days’ judicial custody.
Incidentally, the woman's mother and her ‘uncle’, a man identified as Narender Yadav, named in the FIR as co-conspirators in the case are yet to be apprehended.
In the bail hearing held on Monday, in which the complainant/applicant was represented by advocate Ajay Wadhwa of Tripaksha Litigation, the court took cognizance of the fact that multiple FIRs were lodged by the woman against various men which made similar allegations. It also recorded the fact that yet another FIR had been lodged against the woman by a man for allegedly trying to extort money from him after she had been arrested.
The woman's counsel sought to project her as a victim of lustful men and contended that she was a bright BA (Hons) student at a college in Delhi University. The court, however, went on to reject the bail plea and asked the police to produce the woman on January 12 at the end of the judicial custody period.
Speaking to National Herald, social activist and documentary filmmaker Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj – who had first flagged the issue in October last year and alerted Haryana State Women’s Commission (HSWC), which went on ask DGP, Haryana to constitute a SIT to probe the matter – expressed satisfaction that law had finally caught up with the woman in question. “It, of course, remains to be seen if she is convicted, but at least all her misdeeds are now out for the world to see,” she remarked.
“Perhaps other women with similar intentions would now think twice before resorting to honey trapping to blackmail men to try extort money,” she added.
Preeti Bhardwaj Dalal, officiating chairperson of HSWC, on her part, pursued the matter to ensure that an SIT was formed, which may have had a bearing on the police action against the woman.
She had written to Commissioner of Police, Gurugram on October 22, 2021 to furnish details of the FIRs and report of enquiry conducted by the police. On October 26, 2021, she wrote to the Director General of Police, Haryana to form a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the matter.
“We presume this case has the linings of criminal activities which may be similar to sexpinage, extortion, femme fatale-honey trapping. This is a serious matter and requires urgent action and attention from your department,” she wrote in her letter.
Speaking to National Herald, she said “When I first learnt of the matter, I was astounded that such a daring honey trapping racket was going on, that too in the millennium city. After writing to the DGP, I had met Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij regarding the same and he had passed directions to expedite the matter,”.
“Such rampant misuse of laws meant to protect women by a 20-year-old woman is an extremely serious issue. They lose their sanctity in the process,” Dalal said, adding, “Several such honey trapping cases are active in Haryana which we will deal with suitably. We feel that the Commission is mandated to deal with such social issues irrespective of gender”.
Commenting on the development, criminal and cyber law practitioner Nishant Kumar Srivastava said, “Misuse of legal provisions and machinery, both by the police as well as some unscrupulous complainants, has eroded the faith of masses in the entire process of dispensation of justice in India. False complaints, that too about commission of grave offences like rape, scandalise society and raise a false alarm as to the safety and security of women in general and failure of the police in particular.”
“Human dignity, human rights, right to life and personal liberty, and innocence of an accused till proved guilty are the touchstones of a criminal trial. However, unfortunately, in rape trials, as an exception these universally acknowledged principles are never observed. In fact, it becomes the other way round, the accused male is treated by the prosecution, society and many a time by the family too as a culprit and wrong doer from day one and thus he loses the most important facet of his existence guaranteed by Article 21 (Right to life and personal liberty) i.e. his dignity and his reputation,” he added.
“While the reporting of an accusation of rape/ registration of an FIR is widely publicised, unfortunately the outcome of the trial if it ends in acquittal or the fact that the police did not find any evidence to file charge sheet is conveniently forgotten by the media and the society at large and the innocent person has to live with the stigma for the rest of his life, which adversely affects his career and his entire clan too,” he said.
“Recently, Delhi High Court sentenced an IO (Sub-Inspector) to a one-day imprisonment for violating the rules of arrest laid down in Arnesh Kumar vs State of Bihar judgment,” Srivastava pointed out.
“The rejection of the bail application of the lady who has moved the judicial machinery on false grounds is going to create much deterrence amongst such unscrupulous complainants and police officials. However, since the trial against the complainant/accused and trial in all the rape cases is still pending, we have to wait for the final outcome to be able to conclusively say that the rape complaints made by the prosecutrix were false and motivated,” he added.