Case against NGO for forcing woman to file false rape case

A city court has asked the Delhi Police to conduct an investigation into the role of a prominent NGO after a "rescued rape victim" told the court that a worker from the NGO had "tutored" her and told her to falsely depose that she had been raped by her employer, a businessman.

Additional Sessions Judge Nivedita Anil Sharma on Saturday acquitted the businessman a Punjabi Bagh resident of the charge of rape.

The court also noted that though the NGO Shakti Vahini had been associated "in over a thousand cases", this case was the first instance in which the NGO had gotten involved to the extent of filing an application for the cancellation of bail of the accused.

The businessman had been granted bail to conduct the last rites of his mother, after spending 72 days in jail. The NGO had filed an application seeking the cancellation of bail.

The court dismissed the application and noted that the NGO had no locus standi to file a petition regarding the bail of an accused.

During arguments, the court found that the woman, who was sent to the Nirmal Chhaya women's home, had written to superintendent of Nirmal Chhaya and that her employer had not raped her.

The prosecution said the woman, who hails from Assam, was a minor and was "rescued" by the NGO and police from the Punjabi Bagh home of the businessman in October 2012.

It said the woman had told police that she was being forcibly kept at the businessman's home for three years with very little pay.

The prosecution had chargesheeted the businessman for rape and under the anti-human trafficking and anti-bonded labour laws.

The chargesheet also said the woman had given a statement that she had been raped numerous times by businessman, who had also "given her some tablets" after raping her.

However, the woman testified before the court that she had made false allegations after the NGO worker had told her that she would receive a lot of money if she filed a complaint of rape against her employer.

The woman told court that she was over 20 years old and had come to Delhi to find a job, along with a person known to her, with the knowledge of her family.

The court noted that "more than normal interest" was shown by the caseworker, who according to her own testimony, and the woman's statement, had remained with the woman all through the rescue proceedings as well as the medical examination, and had also remained present when police and the magistrate had recorded the statement of the woman.

Sahni's advocate R N Vats told the court that the accused did not have any access to the woman at the shelter home and could not have manipulated or bribed her.

Noting that "instances of apparent nexus between the placement agency, the NGO and police have been noticed, where a poor tribal woman has been used by any or all three to extort money", the court lodged a case of perjury against the woman.

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