The silence of a rape victim cannot be taken as proof of consent for sexual relations, the Delhi high court has observed while upholding a man's 10-year jail term for raping a pregnant woman.
Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal made the observation while rejecting a rape convict's defence that the victim's silence about the incident proved consensual sexual relations.
"The defence taken by the accused that the prosecutrix (victim) had consensual sexual relations with him which is pointed out from her silence about the incident, holds no ground, as mere silence cannot be taken as proof of consensual sexual relations as she has also stated that she was being threatened by the accused.
"Thus, any act of sexual intercourse in the absence of consent would amount to an act of rape," the high court said, while upholding a trial court's 2015 decision to convict and sentence to 10-year imprisonment one Munna, who was then 28 years old, for repeatedly raping a 19-year-old woman.
The high court also upheld the decision of the trial court to acquit Munna of the offences of kidnapping, saying there were inconsistencies in the woman's statements regarding how she had reached Delhi.
It also agreed with the subordinate court's decision to acquit him and co-accused Suman Kumar of the charge of trying to sell the woman into prostitution as alleged by her.
The high court was hearing Munna's appeal against his conviction and sentence, as well as the plea of the police challenging the trial court's decision to acquit the two men of the other offences.