A Delhi court on Saturday granted anticipatory bail to Lok Janshakti Party MP Prince Raj in a rape case.
Special judge Vikas Dhull granted the relief to the politician on a bond of Rs one lakh and one surety of like amount, saying there was “unusual delay” in lodging the FIR against Raj by the complainant.
"In the event of arrest of the applicant, investigating officer (IO)/ station house officer of Connaught Place police station is directed to release the accused on his furnishing a personal bond of Rs one lakh with one surety in the like amount,” the judge said.
The judge also directed Raj to join the investigation as and when required by the IO and not “threaten, pressurize or contact the prosecutrix in any manner whatsoever i.e. through phone, WhatsApp, email, Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, etc.”
Raj, the nephew of the late Ram Vilas Paswan and cousin of Chirag Paswan, is a Member of Parliament from Samastipur in Bihar.
In its 25-page order, the court accepted the argument made by senior advocate Vikas Pahwa, counsel for Raj, that the complainant and her male friend were extorting money and blackmailing his client since 2020.
READ MORE: LJP MP Prince Paswan booked for rape
The judge played an audio recording before the court in which her friend Amar was heard threatening to upload objectionable videos and pictures of the accused on Facebook and noted that the call, according to Raj, was made to his relative.
The court also noted that the transcripts of another audio recording show the alleged victim had told Amar that whatever happened between her and Raj “was as per mutual understanding and with the consent of each other.”
"In another transcript of audio recording filed on record by accused along with bail application, prosecutrix is threatening to make a video viral which she had prepared to put the reputation of accused at stake,” the court noted.
It noted from the arguments of advocate Nitesh Rana, also appearing for Raj, that there were more audio and video recordings of such nature.
"All the aforementioned facts show that it was prosecutrix, who was trying to threaten the accused to defame him by circulating his picture/video which was in her possession and she also corroborated the allegations made in the FIR lodged by accused that they had a consensual physical relationship,” the judge noted.
The court further observed that the FIR was lodged by her after 16-17 months of the alleged incident and after more than three months of another FIR lodged by Raj at Parliament Street.
"No explanation has been provided by the prosecutrix in her complaint...as to why she did not lodge the police complaint regarding the alleged offense of rape promptly,” the judge noted. He said that the possibility of “falsely implicating” Raj could not be ruled out.
“The custodial interrogation of the accused is not required in this case as nothing is to be recovered from him...or at his instance,” the court said. It also noted that there was no possibility of tampering with the evidence as all the evidence relating to this case had been seized by the police.
The judge also noted that the accused was having clean antecedents and the possibility of him fleeing from justice was also quite remote as he was a sitting Lok Sabha member and has got deep roots in the society.
It also said the possibility of Raj threatening the complainant was quite remote as a court earlier this month directed police to provide adequate security to her.
In the order, the judge also accepted the argument made by Rana that allegations of the complainant that she visited Raj's official residence here, where the offense allegedly took place on the date claimed by her in February 2020, “is not corroborated by the visitor's register.”
There was also no electronic evidence of her visit to Raj's residence since the CCTV recordings were preserved only for a month, the court noted.
The possibility of the victim mentioning her visit to Raj's official residence as an afterthought or after having gathered information about the room number of the applicant at Western Court, New Delhi, cannot be ruled out, the court said.
The Delhi Police filed an FIR on September 9 against Prince Raj on the directions of a court here. The woman, who claims that she was an LJP worker, has accused Raj of raping her while she was unconscious.