After music composer-singer Ankit Tiwari was acquitted of rape charges recently, the complainant, who turned hostile, says she will now move the High Court
Neha Maheshwri (BOMBAY TIMES; May 3, 2017)

Barely six days after the Mumbai sessions acquitted court composer-singer Ankit Tiwari of rape charges levelled by a woman in March 2014, the latter has decided to move the Bombay High Court to reopen the case. Ankit was acquitted on April 27 after the complainant turned hostile and the prosecution failed to gather enough evidence against him. Apparently, the singer and his brother Ankur's statements to the media after their acquittal has irked her.

The complainant says, “I decided to withdraw the case after fighting for almost a year, as Ankit and his family pleaded saying that it was affecting his career. My family and husband (she got married in 2015) were pressured by them and their lawyer, Neeraj Gupta. I agreed and in return, asked them to apologize to my parents, who were insulted by them. I also got it in writing that they would never give a statement - direct or indirect - against me or on the case once they were acquitted, failing which I would be free to initiate any legal action I deem fit. They have not only tried to tarnish my image by claiming that they are innocent, but have also gone all out to prove that the case was false.“

Ask her if she has been paid any monetary compensation and she replies, “I haven't been paid a single penny. I withdrew the case with good intent, but their behaviour has angered me. I have now decided to take the case ahead. I will file a re-petition before the High Court in a week to reopen the case. I have enough proof to establish my case.“

The woman, who Ankit was allegedly dating then, had filed a case against him in March 2014 for sexually assaulting her several times between October 2012 and December 2013 after promising to marry her. She had also filed a case against Ankur for threatening her. Ankit was subsequently arrested by the Mumbai Police on May 8, 2014 and later let out on bail.

Recalling the event, she says, “He saw me at an event and asked an acquaintance for my number. He developed a liking for me and we met a few times as friends. When I invited him to my place on my sister's birthday, he offered me a drink and had sex with me. It wasn't consensual the first time. When I confronted him, he promised to marry me. In fact, my family even met his parents in his hometown Kanpur, but were humiliated by them. Soon after, Ankit threatened me saying that he will circulate an intimate video clip of me with him. His brother also threatened me.“

When contacted, Ankit directed us to his lawyer Rizwan Merchant, who remained unavailable till the time of going to press.

We spoke to Advocate Yusuf Iqbal Yusuf to understand if a complainant can approach a higher court after turning hostile and here's what he had to say: “Under Indian laws, serious offences such as rape, murder and kidnapping are offences against the State. Therefore, once an FIR is registered on the complaint of a victim/first informant/witness, the State becomes the Prosecutor and the victim/first informant becomes one of the witnesses. During a criminal trial, the evidence of the witness is recorded. It is the bounden duty of the witness to speak the truth since the evidence is recorded under oath. If a witness is untruthful, then he/she becomes liable to be prosecuted for perjury. One of the recent high-profile cases was the Jessica Lall murder case where several witnesses turned hostile and the Delhi High Court directed that they should be prosecuted. Sections 191 to 205 and also 213 and 214 of the Indian Penal Code deal with giving false evidence and screening of offenders. If the survivor was under any threat or subjected to intimidation, then she would be excused if she can show such threat and if she comes forward and gives truthful evidence now. However, if there was any agreement or understanding pursuant to which she turned hostile, then she would face prosecution for giving false evidence. On the other hand, if the new evidence which she comes forward with is credible, then the acquittal of Ankit Tiwari could be set aside.“