Rebecca Samervel | TNN
Mumbai: A sessions court on Wednesday acquitted Abhishek Kasliwal, the son of industrialist Ambuj Kasliwal, who was arrested for raping a 52-year-old woman five years ago.
At 12.15 pm, additional sessions judge S R Malpani-Pawar called 31-year-old Abhishek for the last time into the dock and said, “You are acquitted.”
The proceedings were conducted in-camera and the judge only pronounced the operative part of the order. A detailed order is expected in a week, the defence said.
Dressed in a pair of black trousers and a white shirt, Abhishek, who had walked in minutes before with a sombre face, exited the court room with palpable relief.
As he made his way out about 15 minutes later, Abhishek looked relieved and took another exit route to escape the media glare.
Abhishek has been out on bail since April 2006, a month after the alleged incident came to light.
In a major twist in the case, that saw the police facing the ire of the sessions court and Bombay high court, the victim went missing in October 2006. This prompted the public prosecutor in the case to step down, saying he would not be able to do justice as the victim was not traceable.
In June 2009, however, the victim was traced and she surrendered to Worli police.
The case broke out on March 11, 2006 and witnessed many twists and turns over the years. Shree Ram Mills scion Abhishek was accused of raping the woman on the night of 11-12 March 2006. He allegedly offered her a lift from Colaba to her home, but took her to the mill’s compound in Worli and raped her in his luxury sedan.
Kasliwal was arrested, charged with rape, assault and criminal intimidation, and was initially kept in custody. He was granted bail but the court barred him from entering the city limits.
The police filed a chargesheet in June 2006, in which it cited statements of witnesses who saw Kasliwal entering the mill compound with the victim on the night of the incident. The chargesheet also contained forensic reports and results of the narco-analysis conducted on Kasliwal.
The prosecution submitted a list of 48 witnesses, including the victim, who it wanted to examine in court. Abhishek’s lawyers, however, argued in court that it was not rape but “consensual sex”.
Abhishek Kasliwal’s car (above) in which the victim was allegedly raped and the entrance to the Shree Ram Mills compound
IT WAS A DAY OF VICTORY & DEFEAT
Swati Deshpande | TNN Mumbai: One defence lawyer, two accused men, one charge, two separate victims, one acquital and one conviction, on one day. It was a day of victory and defeat for advocate Shrikant Shivade. He defended two rape accused—Abhishek Kasliwal and Shiney Ahuja. It was acquittal for Kasliwal and a notso-shiny future for Ahuja.
The two cases were three years apart.
Kasliwal (then 27) had been accused of raping a much older woman in the middle of a night outside in his car in 2006. Ahuja (38) had been charged for raping his much younger 18-year-old maid in his own bedroom on a sultry afternoon when he was home alone.
The evidence against both was largely in the victim’s statement. But while the judge did not find evidence enough to convict Kasliwal even though the ‘victim’ stuck to her statement and never turned hostile, the fast track judge in Sewree went on the basis of the FIR against Ahuja, not accepting the turn-around and denial by the maid later.
In the actor’s case, the victim was termed hostile for her “half-hearted” deposition during the in-camera trial. But her retraction was not accepted and the judge also relied on other forensic evidence to nail Ahuja for the sex crime. Ahuja, was held guilty of rape but acquitted of criminal intimidation and illegal confinement. The two accused arrived in court, their expressions grave. One left relieved, the other to re-live a life in jail.
The Times of India, March 31, 2011