The Dindoshi sessions court, Mumbai, stated that veteran actor Alok Nath may have been falsely implicated and that writer-director Vinta Nanda may have delayed filing a complaint of rape for "her own benefit."
Nath was granted anticipatory bail on Saturday in the ongoing rape case filed by Nanda.
In an order dated January 5, judge SS Oza noted that while Nanda remembered the entire incident, she did not remember the date and month in which it happened, thus weakening the case.
"In view of all these facts the possibility cannot be ruled out that the applicant has falsely been enroped in the crime," judge Oza said.
Nanda filed a case against the veteran actor in October last year after she came out publicly when the #MeToo movement gained momentum in India. She alleged that the actor had raped her more than once 19 years ago.
Referring to the delay in registering an FIR, the court said there was no period of limitations prescribed for offences punishable under Sections 376 (rape) and 377 (unnatural sexual offences) of the Indian Penal Code.
However, the court also stated that there was nothing on record to show that Nath threatened her or made any promise for not lodging a report. The report also showed that Nanda had not lodged a complaint after the alleged incident took place for her own benefit.
"Thus, it reveals that applicant did not lodge the report immediately after the alleged incident of her own benefit," reads the order. It should also be noted that though the order refers to Nanda as the applicant, Nath was the applicant since he had filed a plea for bail.
The court also claimed that since both Alok Nath and Nanda were married to separate people, a medical examination would be a mere formality and would not serve any useful purpose. It also stated that the actor's custodial interrogation was not necessary.
"It is to be noted that (the) incident took place at the house of (the) complainant, therefore no possibility to destroy the evidence," the court added.
The order stated that while Nanda had sent a detailed police complaint in writing on October 17, 2018, for registration of an FIR, on the basis of a second report dated November 20, 2018, the FIR was registered against Alok Nath. However, the court said prima facie, it was revealed that there is some variance in the two complaints.
"However, whether same would amount to omission or contradiction is a matter of trial," the court said.
Opposing the anticipatory bail plea, Nanda's advocate had told the court that being modern and having alcohol did not give Alok Nath the right to rape and brutalise her. Further, it was said the first complaint filed by her was only a cover letter along with an attachment of a photocopy of the post she had put up on Facebook on October 8, 2018.
She said that while her post took only ten minutes, the statement recorded by police was in detail and took nearly five hours. Nanda also alleged that Nath was making false remarks to mislead the court and the attempt was to ruin her character and her public image.
The prosecution had submitted that Nath and Nanda worked together on the television serial 'Tara' during which Nath used to come for shootings "in a drunken state". On one occasion, Nath abused the lead actress of the show.
After Nanda removed him from the serial, "he (Nath) started harassing her by coming to her house" while "under the influence of liquor." Nanda has alleged Nath raped her in 1998, after bringing her home from a party he'd organised.
Nath's lawyer said that the complainant's allegations were inspired by the "unrequited and unreciprocated love" and affection she had for the veteran actor.
Granting anticipatory bail on a surety of Rs. 5 lakh, the court said Nath is not allowed to visit the vicinity of Nanda's house.