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'Feeble No May Mean Yes': Court Acquits 'Peepli Live' Maker Of Rape

New Delhi:  Filmmaker Mahmood Farooqui, the co-director of acclaimed Indie film Peepli Live, was on Monday acquitted of raping an American woman two years ago with the Delhi High Court saying “instances of woman behavior are not unknown that a feeble no may mean a yes”.

Mr Farooqi, accused by an American researcher of raping her at his Delhi home in 2015, was granted the benefit of doubt as the court said the woman’s testimony was not reliable.

A lower court had earlier held the 45-year-old guilty and sentenced him to seven years in jail, noting that he had taken advantage of the situation when the survivor was alone in his house.

Cancelling that order in an 85-page judgement, the High Court said: “Whether such an incident happened, if it has happened, it did happen with the consent of the prosecutrix. This remains in doubt.”

It also said “the unwillingness of the prosecutrix (survivor) was only in her own mind and heart.”

Mr Farooqui had challenged his conviction by the lower court and argued that the two had been in a relationship.

Here are other points made by the court:

* If the parties are in some kind of prohibited relationship, then it would be difficult to lay down a general principle that an emphatic “no” would only communicate the intention of the other party.

* If the two are known to each other, are persons of letters and are intellectually or academically proficient, and if, in the past, there have been physical contacts, in such cases it would be really difficult to decipher whether little or no resistance and a feeble “no” was actually a denial of consent.

* The unwillingness of the (survivor) was only in her own mind and heart but she communicated something different to (Farooqui).

* At what point of time, during the act, did she not give the consent for the same, thus, remains unknown and it can safely be said that (Farooqui) had no idea at all that she was unwilling. It is not unknown that during sexual acts, one of the partners may be a little less willing or, it can be said unwilling but when there is an assumed consent, it matters not if one of the partners to the act is a bit hesitant.

* Such feeble hesitation can never be understood as a positive negation of any advances by the other partner

* The court said there was evidence that Farooqui is bipolar and there was no evidence if he could “understand exact import of any communication by other person”.