The Indian Supreme Court has acquitted a man from the state of Jharkhand in a 20-year-old rape case observing that he and the alleged victim “were in love”, their relationship was consensual and the case was "an afterthought", filed when the man was about to marry another woman.
The bench of Justices RF Nariman, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee set aside the conviction by a trial court and the Jharkhand High Court quoting medical experts, who established that the woman was 25 years old when she filed the case in 1999, and not 20 as she claimed, making her a major at the time of the alleged assault in 1995.
According to local media reports, the court also referenced the letters exchanged between the two and their photographs together, saying that they showed that they were in love and that a case of rape and cheating on pretext of marriage was filed a week ahead of the man's wedding to another woman.
The court reportedly added that no woman, after being sexually assaulted at knife-point, would write love letters to the alleged culprit and be in a live-in relationship with him for four years.
The woman claimed that she chose to remain quiet after the incident because the man had promised to marry her.
"The marriage between them could not materialise due to societal reasons as the man belongs to a Scheduled Tribe, while the woman is a Christian. The woman had deposed that their marriage could not be solemnised because they belonged to different religions. She was therefore conscious of this obstacle all along," the court said, according to Indian media reports.
The court added it was not possible to hold, on the basis of evidence, that the man never intended to marry her and quoted the woman's letters in which she had acknowledged that the man's family always treated her well, and that their families even got the couple engaged.