Bombay High Court: C.V. Bhadang, J., while addressing the matter with regard to rape committed by a person claiming to have supernatural powers, expressed that,
“It is significant to note that the blind faith of the parties/victim on the accused is the real driver in such cases.”
Appellant-accused challenged the decision of the lower Judge. Sessions Judge had convicted the appellant for the offence punishable under Section 376 and 354 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Section 3(2) of the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013.
Background of the Case
PW-7 and PW-8 were married to each other but were issueless even after two years of marriage. An acquaintance of her husband introduced them to the appellant stating that the appellant was a devotee of Macchidranath and several devotees were benefited from his grace. Appellant was alleged to have promised PW-7 and PW-8 that they would be blessed with a child. The duo was regularly visiting the appellant on each Thursday when the appellant used to give vibhuti and chant certain mantras.
Further, in May, 2015, the appellant advised PW-7 and PW-8 to have ‘Reiki Procedure’, in which both of them were required to have physical relations in the presence of the appellant.
In the year 2016, the appellant came to the house of PW-7 and PW-8, and they again had the same episode. After this, according to PW-7 her husband PW-8 was asked to go out of the room as the appellant insisted that he would have some procedure conducted on PW-7. After PW-8 went on the terrace, the appellant alleged to have sexually abused PW-7.
In view of the above background, chargesheet was filed. Appellant was found guilty and hence present appeal was filed.
Analysis, Law and Decision
High Court noted that the appellant was selling herbal products and claimed to be a devotee of Macchindranath. It also came in the prosecution evidence that some persons used to visit the house of the Appellant at Goregaon on every Thursday where the Appellant used to give vibhuti and used to chant mantras, professing to transfer the supernatural powers into his devotees.
Further, the Bench noted that in the evidence that relations between PW-7 and PW-8 and the appellant were cordial and they used to have prasad at the house of the appellant and go for picnic together. There was no reason why PW-7 and PW-8 would suddenly turn hostile to the appellant and lodge a complaint of the present nature.
Court added that, although there was a delay of 3 days, the circumstances looking to the nature of the allegations and the episode, there was nothing unusual if PW-7 and PW-8 had reflected on the issue of lodging of the complaint, before finally deciding to act.
High Court did not find the delay to be material so as to discard their evidence.
Elaborating further, Bench held that the act of the appellant would come within the ambit of Section 375(b) of IPC.
The incident in the present case being dated 24.07.2016 would be governed by Section 376(1) as it stood prior to the amendment by Act No. 22 of 2018. Sub-Section 1 of Section 376 as it stood then prescribed a minimum sentence of 7 years. In Court’s view, the sentence of 10 years awarded to the Appellant deserves to be modified to 7 years under Section 376 of IPC. [Yogesh Pandurang Kupekar v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 5014, decided on 4-12-2021]
Advocates before the Court:
Mr. Kuldeep Patil a/w Ms. Saili Dhuru i/b Mr. Prashant M. Patil for the Appellant.
Mr. R.M. Pethe, APP for the Respondent/State.