The silence of a rape victim cannot be taken as proof of consent for sexual relations, the Delhi High Court has observed while upholding a man's 10-year jail term for raping a pregnant woman.
Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal made the observation while rejecting a rape convict's defence that the victim's silence about the incident proved consensual sexual relations.
"The defence taken by the accused that the prosecutrix (victim) had consensual sexual relations with him which is pointed out from her silence about the incident, holds no ground, as mere silence cannot be taken as proof of consensual sexual relations as she has also stated that she was being threatened by the accused.
"Thus, any act of sexual intercourse in the absence of consent would amount to an act of rape," the high court said while upholding a trial court's 2015 decision to convict and sentence to 10-year imprisonment one Munna, who was then 28-years old, for repeatedly raping a 19-year-old woman.
The high court also upheld the decision of the trial court to acquit Munna of the offences of kidnapping, saying there were inconsistencies in the woman's statements regarding how she had reached Delhi.
It also agreed with the subordinate court's decision to acquit him and and co-accused Suman Kumar of the charge of trying to sell the woman into prostitution as alleged by her.
The high court was hearing Munna's appeal against his conviction and sentence, as well as the plea of the police challenging the trial court's decision to acquit the two men of the other offences.
According to the woman, she had come to Delhi from Uttar Pradesh in December 2010 and met Munna and Kumar who had allegedly lured her with the promise of work.
She had alleged that Munna took her to Panipat in Haryana where she was confined to a flat for around two months and was repeatedly raped by him. She had also alleged that he had threatened to kill her if she tried to escape.
Later, Munna took her to a flat in Noida in Uttar Pradesh, rented by Kumar, and from there they brought her to another flat in Shastri Park here, she had alleged.
She had also told the police that on April 1, 2011, when Kumar got to know that Munna had raped her in his absence, the two men had fought and the former had called the cops.