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Activist Mugilan gets bail in rape case, but HC rejects his claim that he was abducted

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court granted bail to anti-Sterlite activist Mugilan on Wednesday after casting doubt over the allegations of rape against him by a female activist from Karur district. Justice GR Swaminathan, who was hearing the case however, also termed Mugilan’s allegations of abduction a ‘cock and bull story’ and stated that it was better narrated ‘to a gullible child than the High Court.’

Mugilan, who is the Coordinator of Tamil Nadu Environment Protection Movement, was traveling from the Egmore railway station in Chennai to Madurai on a special train on the night of February 15, when he disappeared. This was soon after he held a press meet in Chennai about the shooting of 13 civilians during the anti-Sterlite protests in Thoothukudi.

On March 30, over a month after the 52-year-old went missing, a female social activist in Karur district filed a case of rape against him. She accused him of sexually exploiting her with a promise of marriage.

Mugilan was finally found on July 7, five months after he went missing, at a railway station in Andhra Pradesh. But any celebrations or relief over his resurfacing were dramatically cut short as he was arrested by the CB-CID for rape. He however moved for bail and claimed that the charges against him were false. He further added that his ‘disappearance’ was because he was abducted, and not due to the rape case.

According to the court’s orders, he claimed he was awake till the train reached Chengalpattu. He said he fell asleep and when he woke up, he realised that he was being abducted in a car. He further claimed that he was threatened by the captors that he should give up his anti-Sterlite protest. He has further claimed that he was later abandoned and that realised that he was in Jharkhand.

Responding to this, Justice GR Swaminathan said, “I can only characterise the petitioner’s version as a cock and bull story. In Tamil Nadu, on every infant, ear-piercing ceremony is done. This is known as “Kadhu Kuthal”. This phrase has another meaning too. Whenever somebody is trying to weave a fancy tale, this expression is used. I can only remark that the petitioner herein is attempting to weave a similar tale that could have been better narrated to a gullible child than the High Court.”

And as for the charge of rape against the activist, the judge said that he was not impressed with the claim.

“I am not impressed with the said claim of the defacto complainant. The defacto complainant entered into a physical relationship with the petitioner with her eyes wide open. The defacto complainant is not a rustic village girl,” stated the judge, “She knew the marital status of the petitioner. More than anything else, the relationship between the petitioner and the defacto complainant dates back to the year 2017. The complaint in question came to be lodged by the victim only on March 30, 2019.”

When TNM had spoken to the complainant in July, she said, “I knew he was married but I didn’t know if he was in touch with his family. He has never said he is going home or going to meet his wife. In fact, when he went to jail in 2017 for a year, I was the one who visited him and carried his messages to other activists. His wife never even visited him.”

Also read: ‘He vanished to avoid confrontation’: Woman who accused Mugilan of rape to TNM

But the court did not see any substance to her claim. Further, making a problematic comparison to Hindu mythology, the court said, “While Abimanyu was encircled (in a Chakravyuka) during Mahabharata war, the petitioner appears to have been locked in a ‘Manmadha Vyuha’,” said the judge. “But, the continued incarceration of the petitioner will not serve any purpose. I therefore grant him bail,” he added.

The court has however stipulated conditions for the bail which include a bond of Rs 10,000 and appearance in the respondent police station once in two days. 

Source: The News Minute