After serving seven years in prison, a 35-year-old man who was arrested in 2015 for the rape of his 15-year-old stepdaughter was acquitted on Thursday by the Kalyan Sessions Court.
In the case, the man was falsely accused by his stepdaughter, wife, and the wife’s first husband. The girl allegedly devised the scheme after watching a popular crime show on television in order to conceal her affair with her boyfriend and reunite with her parents.
In 2018, the man met his lawyer in prison. Because of the man’s good behaviour, the lawyer realised there was more to the case and began his own investigation.
In 2014, the man, Vipul Narkar, was 28 and owned his own printing press when he met the girl’s mother at a restaurant and fell in love with her. The woman had two children, a 15-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son, and was divorced. Narkar bought them a house in Dombivli and married the woman, who was 34 at the time. He also obtained school enrollment for the children.
Narkar caught his stepdaughter with a boy twice a year later, in 2015, and scolded her. He advised her to focus on her studies. In April of that year, the girl attempted suicide by ingesting phenyl and was rushed to the hospital. She reported sexual assault by her stepfather to authorities. Narkar was charged with rape under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO). Narkar had no money and was unable to fight his case, so he remained in jail.
Ganesh Gopal, his lawyer, met him at Adharwadi jail in 2018. “I noticed Narkar was well behaved with everyone and helped most inmates with small chores like writing applications,” Gopal said. He had lovely handwriting and was fluent in English. I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about him. After speaking with him and hearing him out, I decided to take his case. I filed an application in court in 2019, and the proceedings began. They were, however, trapped as the pandemic spread.”
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In the case, the defence questioned 12 witnesses, including the girl, three male friends, her principal, medical officers, and neighbours.
“Her medical report did not show any signs of sexual assault,” Gopal added. Her parents or school principal were unable to produce her birth certificate, which would have demonstrated that she was a minor at the time of the incident.
We then decided to cross-examine the young lady. She told us that they sold the house Narkar had brought them in Dombivli and moved in with her biological father. She also told the court that her boyfriend refused to marry her, so she tried to commit suicide. She was afraid Narkar would chastise her for attempting to elope. She used to watch a popular crime drama, which inspired her to frame her stepfather so that her parents could reunite as well. She told the court that she told her parents about the plan, and they agreed.”
Following the conclusion of the trial, Sessions Court Judge AD Harne acquitted Narkar of all charges of rape and POCSO based on the testimony of the witnesses.