HC grants interim protection from arrest to Mumbai journalist in rape case provided he joins probe



NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Friday granted interim protection from arrest to a Mumbai-based television journalist in a rape case provided he joins the police investigation.

Justice Mukta Gupta issued notices and sought responses of Delhi Police and the complainant woman on journalist Varun Hiremath’s plea seeking anticipatory bail in the case.

“Petitioner be not arrested till the next date of hearing subject to him joining the investigation as and when directed,” the high court said.

It asked the police to verify the documents to be given by the man and file a status report and listed the matter for further hearing on April 16.

Hiremath, represented through senior advocate Kapil Sibal, has approached the high court after his earlier anticipatory bail plea was dismissed by a trial court here on March 12.

The 22-year-old woman in her complaint alleged she was raped by Hiremath at a five-star hotel in Chanakyapuri on February 20.

The counsel for the 28-year-old man claimed before the court that that there had been a history of previous sexual relationship between the accused and the complainant.

When advocate Siddharth Arora, representing the complainant, urged the court not to grant any protection to Hiremath as he has been on the run for last 50 days, the high court said if the man has documents to show that the relationship was consensual, let him join the investigation and police will verify it.

Prosecutor Tarang Srivastava accepted notice on behalf of Delhi Police.

The trial court, while rejecting the journalist’s anticipatory bail plea, had said that consent cannot be implied from the complainant’s previous experiences with the accused and if the woman stated in her evidence before the court that she did not consent, the court shall presume that she did not.

Before the trial court, the man’s counsel had highlighted some WhatsApp and Instagram chats between the accused and the complainant “in order to show the love and passion between them for each other”.

It had also noted in its order that some WhatsApp chats of the accused and the victim after the alleged offence indicated “towards the feeling of sorry by the accused of his acts”.

It has said the question of consent coupled with the conduct of complainant and accused was a matter of trial and that it was only considering the anticipatory bail plea.

On the basis of woman’s complaint, an FIR under IPC sections 376 (punishment of offence of rape), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) was registered at Chanakyapuri police station here.

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