Giving the “benefit of doubt” to film writer and director Mahmood Farooqui, the Delhi high court in India on Monday set aside his conviction in a rape case, observing that there were doubts over the claim of the U.S.-based complainant that he had oral sex with her without her consent, reports the Times of India. “No” may not always mean no, Justice Ashutosh Kumar said in his ruling, adding that there were examples of “woman’s behavior (where)… a feeble ‘no’ may mean a ‘yes'” when it comes to intimacy. The 35-year-old woman had alleged that Farooqui had raped her at his Delhi home in 2015.
A court last year had sentenced Farooqui to a seven-year prison term. The new court’s order revolved around the question of consent. It found the claim of rape unreliable, noting the woman had faked an orgasm during the alleged crime, justifying it on the grounds that she feared violence if she resisted. “In an act of passion, actuated by libido, there could be myriad circumstances which can surround a consent, and it may not necessarily always mean yes in case of yes or no in case of no,” the judge held. The high court also took into account factors such as past intimacy between Farooqui and the woman, noting that they had kissed twice in the past. It remains in doubt, the court said, “as to whether such an incident (the rape)… took place, and if at all it had taken place, (whether) it was without her consent, and if it was without her consent, whether the appellant could discern/understand the same.”