Megh HC | Courts can’t be swayed by rise in crimes against women; conviction under S. 366 IPC in a case based on ‘imagination’ set aside

Meghalaya High Court: A Bench of Mohammad Yaqoob Mir, C.J. and H.S. Thangkhiew, J. set aside the conviction and sentence inflicted upon the appellant for an offence of “kidnapping abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage, etc.”, punishable under Section 366 IPC.

As per the prosecution, on the day of the incident, the prosecutrix boarded the appellant’s auto rickshaw for her home. It was alleged that the appellant deliberately avoided to stop the autorickshaw at the destination (home of the prosecutrix). This prompted the prosecutrix to jump out of the autorickshaw, as a result whereof she was injured and became unconscious. The appellant was booked for an offence under Section 366  and was convicted by the trial court. Aggrieved thereby, he filed the present appeal.

The High Court noted that the star witness — the prosecutrix —  did not support the prosecution case of kidnapping. As per the Court, the case was registered on the basis of imaginationIt was further noted that the appellant did not know the home of the prosecutrix or the point where he had to stop and as stated by him, there was noise of trucks and maybe due to that, he was unable to hear the voice of prosecutrix. Referring to the ingredients under Section 366, it was observed: “There is not an iota of evidence to suggest that the prosecutrix was in any manner compelled to marry or likely to be compelled to intercourse so as to constitute offence punishable under Section 366 intention directly or indirectly shall be gatherable from the evidence.”

Furthermore, an important question is whether the accused knew where the house of the prosecutrix was situated nor it is stated in any manner that she had asked the driver to stop and he refused. It is nowhere emerging from the evidence that the auto rickshaw driver while driving the auto rickshaw … had deviated from the main road..”

Holding that the prosecutrix got apprehensive of her own and there was nothing on part of the appellant which could constitute offence under Section 366 IPC, the Court observed: “Learned trial court appears to have been swayed by the rise of cases of sexual harassment against women and minor children …Any offence against women and minor children is totally unacceptable but in the name of the same, an innocent person cannot be convicted or sentenced. Any person who dares or tries to commit such offence cannot be shown any leniency but at the same time without any basis, a person cannot be convicted and sentenced.”

In such view of the matter, the appeal was allowed and set at liberty. [Jerman Syngkli v. State of Meghalaya, Crl. A. No. 1 of 2019, Order dated 01-05-2019]

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