Anatomy of a Rape Trial: A Timeline of Mahmood Farooqui Rape Case
(This story was first published on 1 August 2016. It has been republished from The Quint’s archives in light of Mahmood Farooqui, co-director of Peepli Live and a well-known exponent of Dastangoi, being acquitted of rape charges in a 2015 case, on 25 September.)
Co-director of ‘Peepli Live’ Mahmood Farooqui was acquitted by the Delhi High Court in a 2015 rape case, on 25 September. The court had raised doubts on the credibility of the rape charges, reported CNN News-18.
Farooqui had earlier made an appeal against his seven-year jail term for allegedly raping a US-based researcher.
What Led to Farooqui’s Earlier Sentencing in the Rape Case
Farooqui had been sentenced to seven years of imprisonment, on 4 August 2016, for allegedly raping a US-based research scholar in March 2015.
For activists fighting against sexual assault, his sentencing was significant for two reasons. One, after the 2013 amendment to the law which included forced oral sex as rape, this might well be the first case where it had been recognised as rape and a conviction secured.
Two, the case had been marked by statements from Farooqui’s friends and family who had repeatedly questioned how an educated, sophisticated and cultured man like Farooqui could be accused of rape.
The Quint brings you a timeline of events and a gist of the arguments made in court.
June 2015: US Scholar Alleges Sexual Assault, Farooqui Arrested
Mahmood Farooqui is arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 35-year old US research scholar at his Sukhdev Vihar residence on 28 March 2015. According to the police, the incident occurred after a party at Farooqui’s house where two other senior journalists were present. Allegedly, Farooqui asked the complainant to stay back which is when the sexual assault took place.
The scholar, pursuing a PhD, was introduced to Farooqui by a common friend who had promised her access to MP Yogi Adityanath for her research work.
Soon after the incident, the woman left for United States for 10 days and allegedly sent emails to Farooqui about the assault. Farooqui had allegedly replied to some of her emails admitting to the assault and asking for forgiveness.
Anusha Rizvi, co-director of Peepli Live and Farooqui’s wife releases a statement calling the charges against Farooqui ‘false and manipulated’.
September 2015: Trial Begins, Calls Between Rape Survivor and Farooqui Emerge
Trial starts, where the alleged rape survivor states that she has texted and shared details of the assault with Danish Hussain. Hussain was the one who introduced her to the accused.
Two witnesses are dropped by additional sessions judge, Sanjiv Jain after being asked by Vrinda Grover, the counsel for the research scholar and AT Ansari, the public prosecutor.
In an important statement which shaped the proceedings of the case, the survivor tells the court that she texted her friend on WhatsApp immediately after the assault and then took a taxi.
During the ride, she narrated the incident to her friend, over the phone, according to sources present in the court. Recording of evidence is deemed inconclusive and ordered to be resumed on 22 September 2015. Call details and email exchanges between the rape survivor and the accused emerge as essential evidence.
October 2015: Danish Hussain Deposes, Says Rizvi Intervened
Danish Hussain, Farooqui’s partner in ‘Dastangoi’ and a witness in the case, deposes before the court. He says that the complainant had told him about the sexual assault immediately and he had received text messages from her. The text messages stated that Farooqui had forced himself on her.
Furthermore, Hussain says that after he got to know about the assault, he told the woman to leave the house. He states that he had received forwarded emails from the woman detailing email exchanges between her, Farooqui and his wife, Anusha Rizvi.
Furthermore, he says that Rizvi had asked him to get in touch with the complainant so that she withdraws rape charges against Farooqui.
November 2015: Farooqui Denies Rape Allegations
Mahmood Farooqui denies allegations of rape and claims that he has been falsely implicated. The court had earlier framed charges against him by stating,
January 2016: “I Did Not Resist the Rape For Fear of Being Killed”
In final arguments in the trial, the woman says that she ‘did not resist’ the rape for fear of being killed like the 16 December gang rape victim. On the other hand, Farooqui tells the court that the woman’s testimony of the rape proves the ‘impossibility of sexual assault.’ Farooqui was granted bail in the case for his ‘good conduct’.
She was reminded of the documentary of the Nirbhaya case, where the rapist had said that if the victim had not struggled, she would have survived. The accused (Farooqui) applied force and pushed her down. She then froze. She knew if she resisted the rape upon her, the consequence would be worseVrinda Grover, Advocate, Counsel for the Victim
The defence had made the argument that the woman was ‘of disturbed mind’, to which Grover argues that she had come to India on a prestigious scholarship. She further points out that the alleged sexual assault was committed by a person in a position of trust. And it should be treated with due seriousness.
July 2016: Farooqui Found Guilty
Farooqui is convicted by a Delhi court for raping US research scholar, court will decide quantum of sentence on 2 August 2016. Additional Sessions Judge Sanjiv Jain orders that he be taken into judicial custody. The punishment entails a minimum punishment of seven years’ rigorous imprisonment and a maximum punishment of imprisonment for life.
August 2016: Farooqui Sentenced to 7-Year Jail Term
The court awarded a seven-year jail term to Farooqui on 4 August 2016.
October 2016: Farooqui Challenges Conviction Order
Farooqui moved the High Court, challenging the trial court order on conviction and sentencing.
September 2017: Farooqui Acquitted of Rape Charges by Delhi HC
The High Court reserved its judgment on 1 September.
Mahmood Farooqui was acquitted by the Delhi High Court on 25 September afternoon. The court had raised doubts on the credibility of the rape charges, reported CNN News-18.