NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has upheld the rape conviction of a man who had married a disabled woman without disclosing his existing first marriage, but reduced the life term given to him by a trial court to seven years.
It said the lesser sentence would be "sufficient to deter him from indulging in such sexual adventurism in future".
A bench of S P Garg and C Hari Shankar acquitted him of the charge of deceitfully marrying the disabled woman.
It said no evidence showed "deceit or concealment" by him about his existing first marriage.
The high court was also of the view that the life term awarded to the man for the offence of rape was "needlessly harsh" as he had never forced the disabled woman to have sexual relations with him and the only reason she filed the complaint against him was the existence of his first marriage.
The bench declined to believe the woman's claim that she came to know about the man's first marriage two years after their wedding in 2011 and that she "could not be likened to an innocent prey of a sexual predator".
"To visit the man, in such a situation, with the extreme penalty of rigorous imprisonment for life appears, to us, preposterous.
We are of the view, therefore, that, in the peculiar circumstances of this case, a punishment of seven years rigorous imprisonment, with proportionate reduction of fine, would be more than sufficient, to deter him from indulging in such sexual adventurism in future," it said.
The high court, however, agreed with the trial court's decision to acquit the first wife of the charge of deceiving the disabled woman to persuade her to marry the man.
The disabled woman had alleged in her complaint that the man and his first wife had come to her home pursuant to a matrimonial advertisement issued by her parents by posing as brother and sister.
She had claimed that she came to know that the "brother-sister" duo were actually husband and wife from a TV news report in connection with his arrest for allegedly stealing Rs 80 lakh and a Hyundai i10 car from her parents' home.
The complainant and the man had got married in 2011, the police had told the court and had alleged that the convict and his first wife planned to grab the disabled woman's property.
Though the lawyer for the man and his first wife claimed that they were in a live-in relationship, the high court rejected the contention by referring to some property papers where they were shown as a married couple.