Orissa High Court: While deciding the issue that whether it would be proper to quash the criminal proceedings against the petitioner in an offence of abduction and gang rape especially when prima facie materials on record concerning his complicity in the crime have been collected during course of investigation, but the co-accused persons have been acquitted of all the charges on the ground that the victim and other independent witnesses have not supported the prosecution case, the Bench of S.K. Sahoo, J., dismissing the petition, held that a Court cannot quash the criminal proceedings against the petitioner forming an assumption on the ground that the co-accused persons have been acquitted as the victim did not support the prosecution case.
As per the facts, the petitioner and other co- accused persons was charged under Sections 363/366/376(2) (g) read with Section 34 IPC and Section 3 of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, for abducting and gang raping a married woman. The victim however turned a hostile witness, as a result of which the co- accused persons were acquitted. Arupananda Das, Addl. Government Advocate for the State put forth before the Court that during course of investigation and from the statements of the victim, prima facie case was found against the petitioner and accordingly, charge sheet was submitted. Thus merely because the victim did not support the prosecution case during trial in respect of the co-accused persons, the same cannot be a ground to quash the criminal proceeding against the petitioner.
Perusing the facts of the case, the Court observed that it is a case of abduction and gang rape of a married lady, and even though the victim turned hostile during the trial of the co- accused persons, it cannot be said that she will do the same during the trial of the petitioner. The Court noted that if the accused against whom accusation of abduction and gang rape is there remains absconding, and watches the criminal proceeding in respect of the co-accused persons and after such proceeding ended in acquittal, he comes out of his shell feeling that in view of the acquittal of the co-accused persons, the prosecution case against him will become weak and if the Court accepts his plea on the basis of the evidence adduced in the trial of the co-accused persons and quashes the proceeding against him, then it would be a travesty of justice. Thus it cannot be said that the continuance of the criminal proceeding against the petitioner would be an abuse of process. The Court thereby refused to invoke the inherent power under Section 482 of CrPC. [Ajay Kumar Sethi v. State of Orissa, 2018 SCC OnLine Ori 275, decided on 09-04-2018]