Tripura High Court: In a criminal revision petition filed for examining the legality, validity and propriety of the impugned judgment passed by the Trial Court and the Appellate Court, wherein the Court sentenced the petitioner under Section 448 of the Penal Code (IPC) to suffer rigorous imprisonment for 3 months and further sentenced him under Section 354 of IPC to suffer Imprisonment for one year and to pay a fine of Rs. 3,000/- with default stipulations, T. Amarnath Goud, J. has set aside the findings of the Courts below and observed that the discrepancies found in this case appeared to be abnormal in nature and is not expected from a normal person. Thus, due to the presence of some serious contradictions and inconsistencies in the statements during trial, it was very difficult to believe the projected case against the petitioner.
In this case, on 14.07.2014 at about 4.00pm the victim and her child were alone in the house, when the petitioner entered their dwelling and hit and pushed the victim on the ground and tore her clothes and outraged her modesty. The victim cried out for help, but the petitioner pressed her mouth and applied force upon her. Hearing her hue and cry, Tapan Tripura came to the spot and before he could enter the room of the victim, the accused-person immediately fled away from there. The police registered the case under Section 448/354 of IPC.
The petitioner argued that the Courts below committed erred in the matter of correctness, legality and propriety while passing the judgments and sentence to the petitioner. Further, the findings of the Courts below are not tenable because they did not discuss a single word of the cross-examination of the informant witnesses and the defence of the petitioners. The Courts below misconceived and misunderstood the legal position of law and as such, came to a wrong finding of convicting the petitioner.
The Court took note of the statements given by Tapan Tripura wherein he stated that on 14.07.2014 at about 4.00pm he was coming out to the road and at that time, he heard hue and cry from the victim’s house and saw that the accused person was coming out from the said house. But, during cross examination this witness has stated as follows: “at that time the victim did not tell me anything and I also did not ask her anything. Later, in the evening I came to learn that the petitioner had entered the dwelling of the informant and outraged the modesty of his wife (victim)by touching her on the chest”.
The Court observed that during examination-in-chief Tapan Taparia supported the fact that the victim told him that the Petitioner had touched her on the chest. Further, the Court took note of another statement of the witness given to the police wherein, he stated that “at that time, I thought that quarrel was going on between husband and wife and for that reason the petitioner had gone out of their house”. But later, the witness clarified in the evidence that he had heard about the incident from the victim and from his elder uncle.
The Court viewed that “the petitioner is a neighbour of the complainant and not just a stranger who, by taking advantage of an empty house, entered in and tried to outrage the modesty of the victim. The petitioner is known to all and more particularly, he was a neighbour of this locality. He is not just an unknown person to them. Thus, Section 448 of IPC does not attract in this case”.
Further, the court took note of the evidence of witnesses, particularly of Sri Tapan Tripura and observed that the version of the informant and Tapan Tripura is an improved version comparing to the complaint, and since the complaint itself is not specific for attracting Section 354 of IPC and as the petitioner has already suffered three months jail custody, the Court released him by setting aside the judgment of the Courts below.
Moreover, the Court has observed that the way prosecution has projected this case and due to the presence of some serious contradictions and inconsistencies in the statements in course of trial, it was very difficult to believe the projected case against the petitioner. Further, it viewed that “it is a settled proposition of law that the charge framed against the accused person must be established and proved beyond any shadow of doubt and suspicions, however, grave in nature, should not amount to proof”. Thus, the Court set aside the findings arrived at by the courts below.
[Nithuram Tripura v. State of Tripura., 2022 SCC OnLine Tri 620, decided on 13.09.2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
A. Acharjee, Advocate, for the Petitioner;
Additional Public Prosecutor S. Debnath., Advocate, for the Respondent.