Orissa High Court: In an application under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (‘CrPC'), for quashing criminal proceedings against the woman accused for offences, Sashikanta Misra, J. allowed the application and quashed the criminal proceedings against the accused for offences under Sections 466, 468, 511, 120-B of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC') and Section 81 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (‘JJ Act').
In the matter at hand, two infants aged about two weeks and five weeks were found during a raid on the Acharya clinic, Jagatsinghpur by the Chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee (‘CWC'). The Chairperson received information regarding illegal procurement of two infants by the owner or staff of the said clinic. The owner of the clinic/ Doctor could not satisfy the raiding team as to the purpose of keeping the infants in his possession. Subsequently, a case was registered under Sections 365, 370, 317, 120-B read with Section 34 of the IPC and Section 81 of the JJ Act. It was discovered during investigation that an unmarried woman gave birth to female infant and since the pregnancy was begotten out of relationship with a young man, her family left the child at the said clinic in order to protect the prestige and social image. When the accused was informed about the female infant, she wanted to adopt the female infant as she was issueless. Accordingly, the doctor was paid Rs. 80,000/- for the female infant's treatment and subsequently, the doctor applied for female child's birth certificate, stating the accused's name as her mother.
The Court noted that the Doctor and other accused persons had confessed before the police that they had taken steps for handing over the child to the woman and that she had paid the said amount for treatment of the female infant. The Court also perused the statements of other witnesses, namely the unwed mother, the informant and it was noted that none of the witnesses except one had alleged the involvement of woman in the alleged occurrence. Regarding the statement of the witness who came to know about the birth of female infant, the Court said that even if the statement of this witness is accepted in toto, it would fall short for implicating the accused since her name was not specified by the witness and nothing pointed towards the involvement of the accused in the entire transaction. Further, the Court said that even if it was assumed that an application was submitted for grant of birth certificate, there was absolutely no evidence to show that the accused had any role to play in it. Therefore, the Court found that there was no independent material other than admission of the co-accused persons in their statements recorded under Section 161 of the CrPC to show the complicity of the accused in the alleged occurrence. Thus, the Court stated that sans corroboration, the statements of the co-accused persons would hardly have any evidentiary value to be accepted during trial.
The Court conclusively viewed that continuance of the criminal proceedings against the woman without any acceptable evidence would be a travesty of justice and an abuse of the process of the Court. Thus, the application under Section 482 was allowed and the criminal proceedings pending against the accused were quashed.
[Suren Pooja v. State of Odisha, 2023 SCC OnLine Ori 5422, Decided on: 18-08-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the petitioner: Senior Advocate D. Nayak, Advocate A.K. Acharya, A. Acharya, S.S. Das
For the respondent: Additional Standing Counsel Sitikanta Nayak