Statement of rape victim cannot be treated as gospel truth to convict an accused; Punjab & Haryana High Court upholds order of acquittal by trial court

Punjab and Haryana High Court

   

Punjab and Haryana High Court: While dismissing the instant appeal preferred by the appellant against the order dated 01-05-2019 of the trial court whereby the rape accused was acquitted on the ground that prosecution has failed to prove the guilt of accused beyond reasonable doubt, G.S. Sandhawalia and Jagmohan Bansal, JJ., said that if the statement of rape victim is held to be gospel truth and Courts are bound to hold someone guilty just because there is allegation by the victim , it would be travesty of justice and there would be no need to conduct trial.

The FIR against the accused was registered under Sections, 376, 354, 354-B, 506 and 509 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) on 19-09-2017.

Facts:

The appellant was engaged to an officer of Indian Army. According to the victim, on 09-08-2017, after getting permission from her family, she met her fiancé. They both went on a bike ride to Kosli road near a school where the accused performed obscene acts with her. According to the victim, she refused to establish any physical relationship with the accused until marriage, to which the respondent threatened to kill her and refused to marry her.

The appellant stated that on 12-08-2017 and on 14-08-2017 she received threat calls from the respondent’s mobile phone and she informed her family about the whole incident few days later.

The trial court framed different issues for its consideration and held that it would be neither safe nor in the interest of justice to hold the respondent guilty as there is no cogent and convincing evidence on record to link the respondent with the crime in question. Accordingly, the trial Court acquitted the accused of all the charges. The trial court said that as per appellant, incident took place on 09-08-2017, whereas FIR was lodged on 19-09-2017. Thus, there was a delay in registration of FIR and the reasons for the delay advanced by appellant is not satisfactory and believable.

Rule of Law:

It is generally difficult to find any corroborative witnesses in such cases, except the victim herself and therefore, the evidence of the victim is sufficient for conviction unless there exist compelling reasons for seeking corroboration.

Observation and Analysis:

The Trial Court has specifically noticed that statement of prosecutrix must be given pre-dominant consideration. The Trial Court, after noticing this fact, has examined the veracity and truthfulness of the allegations of the prosecutrix. Hence, there is no manifest error, illegality or non-application of mind.

The Court said “the statement of prosecutrix cannot be treated as gospel truth and the Court has to see that she is a witness of sterling quality. If the statement of prosecutrix is held to be gospel truth and Courts are bound to hold someone guilty just because there is allegation by prosecutrix, it would be travesty of justice and there would be no need to conduct trial. The statement recorded by Magistrate under Section 164 or police authorities under Section 161 of CrPC would be sufficient to put a person behind the bars and hold him guilty.

The Court cited Dhanapal v. State, (2009) 10 SCC 401 wherein the Court held that if two views are possible, the benefit of doubt must be granted to accused. It has been further held that if two views are possible, the order of acquittal should not be set aside by the High Court because there is double presumption of innocence.

Keeping in view of the above, the Court upheld the judgment of the trial court saying that the findings recorded by trial court are well reasoned, fair, reasonable and cannot be termed as perverse in any manner, thus, it does not warrant interference.

The Court said that the appellant just to cover up delay has alleged that she was threatened by respondent and due to fear she did not disclose about alleged incident to her parents. The Trial Court has rightly concluded that there is unexplained delay in registration of FIR and it appears that FIR was registered to spite the boy side at a later point of time just because respondent refused to marry appellant.

[Reena Devi v. State of Haryana, 2022 SCC OnLine P&H 2591, decided on 30-09-2022]


Advocate who appeared in this case:

Mr. Anil Kumar, Advocate, for the Appellant.


*Kriti Kumar, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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