Kerala High Court: P.B. Suresh Kumar, J., overturned the conviction of a rape accused by giving him benefit of doubt.
Case of the Prosecution
In the year 2012, accused committed rape on minor girl aged 15 years and thereby committed the offence punishable under Section 376 of Penal Code, 1860 and Section 5(1) read with Section 6 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
On an examination of the materials on record, the Court below found that the prosecution has not made out a case against the accused under Section 5(l) read with Section 6 of the POCSO Act.
The Court however found that the accused is guilty of the offence punishable under Section 376(2)(f) of the IPC and sentenced the accused.
Accused filed the present petition as he was aggrieved by the sentence and conviction.
Whether prosecution has established the guilt of the accused under Section 376(2)(f) of IPC?
overt acts attributed against the accused being overt acts allegedly took place prior to Act 13 of 2013, the point to be considered is as to whether the prosecution has established the guilt of the accused under Section 376(2)(f) of the IPC as it stood prior to Act 13 of 2013.
Prosecution failed to establish the age of the victim girl.
Further the Court observed that the medical examination of the victim girl was done after about 5 years.
The mother of the victim girl who was examined as PW3 turned hostile. In a case of this nature, the fact that the mother of the victim girl herself has not given evidence against the accused in support of the prosecution case throws serious doubts as regards the genuineness of the case.
Bench also noted that the version of the victim girl as regards the overt acts attributed against the accused while she was taken to the doctor for medical examination was that the said incidents took place while she was studying in the 6th standard, whereas, as revealed from the extracted portion of the evidence, what was stated by her before the Court was that the said overt acts have been committed by the accused while she was studying in the 5th standard.
Hence, in view of the inconsistent versions with regard to the overt acts alleged against the accused along with absence of any specific evidence, Court did not found it safe to convict the accused.
“…it was found that the prosecution has not proved the age of the victim girl, even if it is admitted that the accused had sexual intercourse with the victim girl, there is absolutely nothing on record to infer that the alleged sexual acts attributed have been committed against the will of the victim girl or without her consent.”
Court also noted that, the overt acts alleged against the accused took place during 2010, whereas the charge in the case is that the accused committed rape on the victim girl during 2012.
Therefore, accused is entitled to the benefit of doubt and criminal appeal is allowed. [Shaik Shiyavulla v. State of Kerala, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 2631 , decided on 09-07-2020]