New Delhi: A Patiala house court on March 12 had rejected the bail application of ET Now anchor and analyst Varun Hiremath, accused of rape by a 22-year-old woman, and absconding since the survivor filed a police complaint in February.
The first information report (FIR) against Hiremath was filed on February 23, and he has been charged with Section 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) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
“Considering the nature of (the) accusation made against the accused, evidence collected by the IO against him and the facts and circumstances, the gravity of offence and discussion made hereinabove, I am not inclined to grant anticipatory bail to the accused,” Justice Sanjay Khanagwal said, reading from the order.
According to reports, the Bombay high court has previously rejected Hiremath’s anticipatory bail application.
The anticipatory bail application by defence counsel claimed that Hiremath has been “falsely implicated” in the case. The woman and Hiremath had engaged in consensual sexual activity, the application said. It claimed that the 22-year-old’s “interest” in the accused becomes “clear” because she came from Pune to meet him in Delhi and went into the double occupancy room “willingly after giving her identity documents to the hotel management”.
The application further said that there was a delay of three days in lodging the FIR by the complainant. This time was taken to draft the complaint with legal advice to “insert the ingredients of the commission of offence,” alleged the defence counsel, also citing that there is a history of a previous sexual relationship between the accused and complainant.
The complainant’s lawyer Jai Dehadrai said that merely going into the room of the hotel with the accused does not show her intention to indulge in sexual activities with the accused, especially when she had made it clear on the way there that she was not interested. Further, he said that the accused had not informed the complainant that the room was a double occupancy room, and that she had given her personal details at the reception on being told it was part of COVID regulations.
The judge also noted that the IO has shared “WhatsApp chats of [the] accused and [the young woman] of the day of offence after commission of offence which are of·evening time from 8:30 pm onwards, same are indicating towards the feeling of sorry by the accused of his acts.” While all of these bits of evidence would need adjudication at the time of trial, he said, they had relevance to the “ingredients of offence”.
In her complaint, filed on February 23 at Delhi’s Chanakyapuri police station, the woman alleged that she and Hiremath met on the morning of February 21 at Delhi’s Khan Market and went to a hotel in Chanakyapuri.
The complaint reads, “I met the accused at a restaurant…where the accused had wine, and I did not consume any alcohol. Following that, the accused asked me to accompany him to his hotel, where he was staying with his family. However, at this juncture, it is crucial to emphasise that I had only agreed to spend time to chat and catch up with the accused, and at no point of time was this an indication of willingness or consent to engage in any sexual activity let alone intercourse.”
The complaint states that before he took her to the room, Hiremath had told her that he would “annihilate” her in the hotel room after which the complainant categorically told him that this would not happen and that she was only there to catch up with him.
According to sources, when the woman confronted Hiremath over what he had done and said she was filing a complaint, he acknowledged that she had not consented. He also referred to his family’s ability to “deal” with any case. Hiremath is the son of a Mumbai-based businessman.