Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: Madhumati Mitra, J., allowed a criminal revision application filed against the order of the Magistrate whereby he had rejected the petitioner’s prayer under Section 156(3) CrPC to send the petition of complaint to the officer-in-charge of the police station for treating the same as first information report.

The petitioner had alleged commission of various offences against her in-laws including rape and forceful abortion of her pregnancy. The petitioner claimed that she had written a complaint before the police authorities and also reported the incident to Superintendent of Police but no action was taken by them. As such, she was compelled to file an application under Section 156(3) CrPC for treating the same as an FIR and directing the officer-in-charge of Habra Police Station to cause an investigation into the allegations. The Magistrate directed the officer-in-charge to verify the allegations. The officer-in-charge in the report stated that the petitioner was physically and mentally tortured by her husband and in-laws on several times but there was no evidence of rape and termination of pregnancy of the petitioner by force except her own statement. On the basis of this report, the Magistrate rejected the petitioner’s application. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner filed the instant revision application.

The High Court gave due consideration to the submissions made by Angshuman Chakroborty, Advocate appearing for the petitioner, and Sayanti Santra, Advocate representing the State.

Not satisfied with the approach adopted by the Magistrate, the Court observed: “The learned Magistrate has committed an error without taking cognizance of the alleged offences under Section 190(1)(a) CrPC at the time of rejecting the prayer of the petitioner under Section 156(3) CrPC.”

It was further explained: “The appropriate course of action of a Magistrate while rejecting a prayer under Section 156(3) CrPC, to take cognizance of the alleged offences under Section 200 CrPC and to examine the complainant and her witnesses to determine as to whether the process should not be issued. Again under Section 202(1) CrPC the Magistrate, instead of issuing process, may direct an investigation to be made by a police officer. An investigation under Section 202(1) CrPC may hold the Magistrate to ascertain whether or not there is substantial ground to proceed further.”

The High Court was of the opinion that the Magistrate committed an error by rejecting the entire petition of the complaint and, therefore, held the impugned order was not sustainable in law. The Magistrate was directed to consider the petitioner’s prayer under Section 156(3) afresh. [Pranati v. State of W.B., CRR No. 730 of 2019, decided on 21-01-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of R. Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, JJ has dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed by Pawan Kumar Gupta, one of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya Gang rape case where he “reagitated” the plea of juvenility. The Court said,

“once a convict has chosen to take the plea of juvenility before the learned Magistrate, High Court and also before the Supreme Court and the said plea has been rejected up to the Supreme Court, the petitioner cannot be allowed to reagitate the plea of juvenility by filing fresh application under Section 7A of the JJ Act.”

Pawan Kumar had  contended that he was a juvenile under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 at the time of commission of the offence and that the same is apparent from the School Leaving Certificate. He claimed that as per his records, his date of birth is 08.10.1996 and therefore, on the date of alleged incident i.e. 16.12.2012, the petitioner was aged only 16 years 02 months and 08 days.

This, however, was not the first time that the petitioner had raised the plea of juvenility. When the matter was pending before the trial court, plea of juvenility was raised by the petitioner at the first instance. The trial court directed the Investigating Officer to file a report regarding the documents he has relied upon to determine the age of the accused. Upon consideration of the report of the Investigating Officer, the Metropolitan Magistrate had held that the age verification report of the petitioner Pawan Kumar Gupta was received and that the accused did not dispute the age verification report filed by the Investigating Officer and further, he did not dispute the age to be above 18 years at the time of commission of the offence.

He had also raised the plea of juvenility in the review petition before the Supreme Court which was also rejected by the Court vide order dated 09.07.2018. The Court, hence, noticed.

“Considering the earlier orders passed by the Metropolitan Magistrate dated 10.01.2013 and the judgment of the High Court dated 13.03.2014 and the order passed by the Supreme Court dated 09.07.2018, in our view, the learned Single Judge of the Delhi High Court rightly dismissed the revision petition.”

This rejection of SLP and earlier review and curative petitions has brought the death row convicts one more step closer to hanging that is scheduled to take place on February 1, 2020 after a Delhi Court issued fresh death warrants against all 4 convicts. Earlier the hanging was scheduled to take place tomorrow i.e. on January 22, 2020.

The 23-year-old paramedic student, referred to as Nirbhaya, was gang raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 in a moving bus in south Delhi by six people before being thrown out on the road. She died on December 29, 2012 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail here.

On July 9, 2018 , the Court had dismissed the review pleas filed by the three convicts in the case, saying no grounds have been made out by them for review of the 2017 verdict.

On December 18, 2019, the 3-judge bench of R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, JJ rejected the review petition of the last convict, Akshay Kumar Singh, seeking modification and leniency.

A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board and was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term. Two of the convicts are yet to file curative petitions before the Supreme Court.

[Pawan Kumar Gupta v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 48, decided on 20.01.2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench of Joymalya Bagchi and Rai Krishan Kapur, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the order of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted for committing the offence of criminal conspiracy punishable under Section 120-B IPC, and also under Section 216-A IPC for harbouring robbers or dacoits.

The matter related to the incident of dacoity and rape of a man committed in a convent school in Ranaghat, W.B., on 14-3-2015. The appellant was a relative of one of the accused persons. It was alleged that the accused persons, after committing the ghastly crime of dacoity and rape, stayed at the residence of the appellant. He was, thus, charged with the offence of harbouring the accused dacoits. The appellant was convicted as above mentioned two offences. Aggrieved thereby, he filed the instant petition.

The High Court noted that the accused were staying at the house of the appellant as they were there to attend a marriage. Reliance was placed on State v. Nalini, (1999) 5 SCC 253, wherein the Supreme Court had held that more association with one of the principal offenders or even knowledge about the conspiracy cannot make a person a conspirator. It is the agreement which is the sine qua non of the offence of conspiracy. Considering the evidence in the instant case, the High Court was convinced that the necessary ingredients of crime of conspiracy were not proved against the appellant and, hence, his conviction under Section 120-B IPC was quashed.

Coming to the offence under Section 216-A IPC, the High Court noted that the ingredients of the offence of harbouring robbers or dacoits: i) that the persons in question were about to commit or had recently committed robbery; ii) that the accused knew this; iii) that the accused harboured them or some of them; iv) that the accused did so with the intention of – (a) facilitating the commission of robbery or dacoity, or (b) screening them or some of them from punishment.

It was observed by the Court: “…penal liability would not be attracted if a person harbours dacoits in general and it must be proved that he had harboured such dacoits who intended to commit a ‘particular dacoity’.”

Considering the evidence, it was held: “Knowledge of the appellant with regard to dacoity conducted at the convent does not appear to be proved beyond doubt as evidence of P.W. 11 is too vague to be convincing and the other evidence on record do not inspire confidence to come to such conclusion.”

In such view of the matter, the Court held that the accused was entitled to be acquitted and therefore, the conviction of the appellant as recorded by the trial court was set aside.[Gopal Sarkar v. State of W.B., 2019 SCC OnLine Cal 5112, decided on 20-12-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The Special Judge, CBI Cases, Ranchi has awarded the Death Sentence with a fine of Rs. 5000/- under Section 302 of IPC; Life imprisonment with fine of Rs. 5000/- each under Sections 376 & 449 of IPC and 7 years Rigorous imprisonment with fine of Rs. 5000/- under Section 201 of IPC to accused Rahul Kumar (Private person) resident of Dhurgaon, District-Nalanda (Bihar) in a case related to rape and murder of a victim.

CBI had registered a case on 28.03.2018 U/s 448/302/201/328/376/511 & 34 of IPC against unknown persons on the request of Jharkhand Government and further Notification from Government of India. The case was earlier registered on 16.12.2016 at Sadar Police Station, Ranchi and later handed over to CID of Jharkhand. It was alleged that on 15/16.12.2016, the victim, an Engineering Student of 4th Semester of an Engineering College, Ormanjhi, Ranchi who was alone in her house at Booty Basti, Ranchi, was found dead. On the fateful day i.e. on 16.12.16, in the early morning, the elder sister of the victim who was with her parents at Barkakana District Ramgarh tried to contact the victim on her mobile, however, when she did not get any response from the victim, she called up a neighbour to check. The lady neighbour, who was previously their tenant at Ranchi, visited the victim’s house and saw that the victim was found lying dead in her room. As soon as the news regarding rape/ murder of the victim spread, the students of the said Engineering College reached the place in the college buses and demanded immediate justice for the victim. The students also held a candle march. The movement of students of said Engineering College was also joined by other colleges and also supported by others including the local public.

CBI took over the investigation of the case from the State Police and found that one person namely Rahul Kumar who was living nearby areas two-three months ago from the date of occurrence and then left the place. During further investigation, it was found that Rahul Kumar, a resident of Dhurgaon, Distt: Nalanda(Bihar) was absconding. He had hidden his identity and used his name as Rahul Raj @ Aryan @ Rocky Raj @ Raj Srivastav @ Amit @ Ankit. After sincere efforts, he was traced. He was earlier arrested by Uttar Pradesh police. After taking production warrant, Rahul was produced from Lucknow Jail and remanded in this case. The accused was examined and his blood sample was obtained for DNA examination. The DNA profile of Rahul Kumar was matched with the deceased.

After thorough investigation, CBI filed a Charge Sheet in the Designated Court on 13.09.2019 against accused Rahul Kumar. The Court framed charge against the accused on 25.10.2019. Prosecution evidence started from 08.11.2019. During a very short period of about 16 days, all 30 prosecution witnesses were produced and examined by CBI.

The Trial Court found the accused guilty and convicted him on 20.12.2019.


Central Bureau of Investigation

[Press Release dt. 21-12-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Division Bench of Joymalya Bagchi and Suvra Ghosh, JJ., has recently observed in a case of rape and murder of a teenager aged just 13 years, that death penalty must only be invoked as a last resort when it is clear that there is no scope for the rehabilitation of a convict. The judges commented that one must not lose sight of the fact that the imposition of the death penalty is the last resort which the Court must do unwillingly and with a very heavy heart. It ought not to be awarded in cases where the glimmer of hope and rehabilitation is not completely lost. If upon balancing the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, if there seems to be even a tiny glimmer of possibility to salvage the soul of a condemned convict then every effort should be made towards that end.

The Court emphasised that concern for human dignity and life must underscore the jurisprudence on the death penalty. The Bench further added that even if a convict appears to lack sensitivity, a higher standard is expected in response, given the constitutional scheme of things. On an examination of aggravating and mitigating factors, the Court held, that there was potential for the rehabilitation of the convict, and commuted the death penalty to rigorous life imprisonment. The Court took into consideration the Correctional Home report which recommended that the convict had good and sociable conduct and his inmates described him as a supportive person. [State of West Bengal v. Albert Toppo, DR 4 of  2017, decided on 10-12-2019]

Hot Off The PressNews

As reported by PTI,

Telangana High Court: A Division Bench comprising R S Chauhan, C.J. and A Abhishek Reddy, J., directed re-postmortem of the bodies of four accused in the gang-rape and murder.

Bodies of the four accused are currently preserved in the state-run Gandhi Hospital here as per earlier orders of the High Court, after some PILs were filed alleging extra- judicial killing of the men and claiming it was a fake encounter among others.

Bench directed that the second autopsy should be conducted before December 23, and the report with their findings shall be submitted to the Registrar General of the High Court.


Background:

As reported by ANI, Telangana High Court orders to preserve the bodies of the accused, till 13-12-2019.

The matter has been posted for hearing on 12-12-2019.

Advocate Prakash Reddy has been appointed as amicus curiae to assist the Court.

Background:

A representation was made at the Chief Justice’s Office on 6-12-2019, wherein the request for judicial intervention was placed with respect to the extra-judicial killing of the 4 accused’s involved in rape and murder of Disha (name changed) on 27-11-2019.

Advocate General of Telangana informed that the post-mortem of the 4 accused was being done and the same was also being video graphed.

Court asked the video of the post-mortem to be given to the Principal District Judge once the post-mortem is done, which further is to be submitted to the Registrar General of the High Court of Telangana.

Court has further directed for the preservation of the bodies till 9-12-2019 and the matter has been listed for 9-12-2019 before the bench of the Chief Justice of Telangana High Court. [Police encounter which occurred on 06-12-2019 at Chatanapally Village, WP (PIL) No. 173 of 2019, Order dated 06-12-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: Rajeev Kumaar Dubey, J., addressed a petition filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for quashing proceedings of criminal case lodged for the offence punishable under Sections 376(2)(n) & 376(2)(f), 109, 506 & 34 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Prosecutrix, wife of co-accused, lodged a report wherein she stated that her brother-in-law in the absence of her husband committed rape with her. Further adding to the allegation she stated that she had informed about the same incident to her husband and mother-in-law, though both of them asked her to not tell anyone and let him do whatever he wants to otherwise she would be killed like her sister-in-law. Prosecutrix stated that out of fear she did not report of the incident earlier.

Once the prosecutrix returned to her parental home she reported the incident and the crime was registered for the offence punishable under Sections 376(2)(n), 376(2)(f), 506 of Penal Code, 1860 against the applicant (brother-in-law).

Counsel for the applicant contended that there was a delay in lodging of FIR for no plausible explanation and which clearly shows that the same was a false report against the applicant. It has also been pointed that the brother of the applicant had filed a petition earlier under Section 9 of Hindu Marriage Act for restitution of conjugal rights along with this several complaints were lodged by the applicants wherein it was stated that relatives of the prosecutrix had threatened the applicants of implicating them in a false case.

High Court while deciding the present petition stated that, whether or not the reason for the delay of lodging in FIR stated is correct or not, at this stage it cannot be ascertained without any evidence. Even otherwise delay in lodging FIR is one of the factors to ascertain the veracity of the statement of the prosecutrix, not a sole reason.

From the FIR and the charge-sheet the prima facie offence under Section 376 IPC is clearly made out against the applicant for the offence punishable under Sections 376 (2)(n) & 376 (2)(f), 109, 506 & 34 of the IPC cannot be quashed. [Govind Purviya v. State of M.P., 2019 SCC OnLine MP 3950, decided on 16-12-2019]

Hot Off The PressNews

Latest Update in the Case:

As reported by ANI, Telangana High Court orders to preserve the bodies of the accused, till 13-12-2019.

The matter has been posted for hearing on 12-12-2019.

Advocate Prakash Reddy has been appointed as amicus curiae to assist the Court.

 

Background:

A representation was made at the Chief Justice’s Office on 6-12-2019, wherein the request for judicial intervention was placed with respect to the extra-judicial killing of the 4 accused’s involved in rape and murder of Disha (name changed) on 27-11-2019.

Advocate General of Telangana informed that the post-mortem of the 4 accused was being done and the same was also being video graphed.

Court asked the video of the post-mortem to be given to the Principal District Judge once the post-mortem is done, which further is to be submitted to the Registrar General of the High Court of Telangana.

Court has further directed for the preservation of the bodies till 9-12-2019 and the matter has been listed for 9-12-2019 before the bench of the Chief Justice of Telangana High Court. [Police encounter which occurred on 06-12-2019 at Chatanapally Village, WP (PIL) No. 173 of 2019, Order dated 06-12-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Brijesh Sethi, J., while stating that,

“Rape not only causes serious injury to a woman’s body, her honour and dignity and even if such an offence is settled by the offender and victim, this offence being not private in nature but has a serious impact on the society and, therefore, cannot be quashed.”;

dismissed the petition filed with respect to the quashing of FIR and the proceedings emanating therefrom.

The present petition was filed for quashing of FIR under Sections 376 and 380 of the Penal Code, 1860 and the consequential proceedings emanating therefrom.

Background of facts

Petition pleaded that respondent 2 had met the petitioner on account of a professional assignment and thereafter they kept meeting each other regularly and got romantically involved. Respondent 2 entered into a live-in relationship with the petitioner. 

An altercation took place between the petitioner and respondent 2 and the petitioner left respondent 2. Respondent 2 filed a complaint thereafter against the petitioner which culminated into the aforesaid FIR. 

The fact to be noted is that, during the course of the trial, the marriage of the petitioner and respondent 2 was solemnized. However, on account of some differences and misunderstandings, the trial proceedings continued. Upon the intervention of friends the dispute between both resolved by way of the settlement deed. 

Further, respondent 2 gave her ‘No Objection’ affidavit for quashing of the aforesaid FIR and all proceedings emanating therefrom. 

Conclusion

High Court on perusal of the facts and circumstances noted that the FIR under Sections 376 and 380 IPC was registered on the basis of the statement made by complainant/respondent 2 wherein she mentioned about her emotional, physical, mental and sexual abuses at the hands of the petitioner.

Further, the question that arose for consideration was whether the fact that the parties got married and had settled the dispute should be a reason good enough to quash the FIR registered under Section 376 and 380 IPC and consequential proceedings emanating therefrom.

In the Supreme Court decision of Parbathhai Aahir v. State of Gujarat, 2017 SCC Online SC 1189, it was held that scope of power of the High Court under Section 482 CrPC to quash the criminal proceedings on the basis of settlement in a heinous or serious offence is limited.

In Narinder Singh v. State of Punjab, Criminal Appeal No. 686/2014, the Supreme Court held that in respect of offences against society, it is the duty of the state to punish the offender. In consequence, deterrence provides a rationale for punishing the offender. Hence, even when there is a settlement, the view of the offender and victim will not prevail since it is in the interest of the society that the offender should be punished to deter others from committing a similar crime.

Even in the Supreme Court decision of Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 303 Court held that the settlement in cases where nature of offence is heinous /serious like murder, rape and dacoity, the criminal proceedings cannot be quashed even if they are settled by the accused and the victim, by invoking the jurisdiction of High Court under Section 482 CrPC.

In the present case, it is the case of the respondent 2 that she was deceived by petitioner and sexual relations were established on the pretext of false promise of marriage and she was, thus, subjected to emotional, physical, mental and sexual abuse and therefore applying the ratio laid down in the above-cited cases, offence committed by petitioner clearly falls under the category of heinous and serious one.

Thus, in Court’s opinion, the FIR and proceedings emanating therefrom cannot be quashed. [Ananda D.V. v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 11163, decided on 14-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Sikkim High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Meenakshi Madan Rai and Bhaskar Raj Pradhan, JJ., while allowing an appeal, found error in trial court’s decision of convicting the appellant under Section 375 of Penal Code, 1860, as none of the ingredients required for an offence to be established under Section 375 was satisfied.

Background of the case

In the present case, the mother of the victim filed an FIR against the appellant. Charge-Sheet against the appellant was under Section 376 of the Penal Code, 1860 read with Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

Trial Court had framed charges against the appellant under Sections 5(l) and 5(k) punishable under Section 6 of POCSO Act, 2012 and Sections 376(2)(n), 376(2)(i) and 376(2)(l) of the Penal Code, 1860.

Trial Court on considering the examination of the witnesses, convicted the appellant of offences under Section 376(2)(l) and 376(2)(n) punishable under Section 376(2) of the Penal Code, 1860 but acquitted him of the offences under Sections 5(l) and 5(k) of the POCSO Act, 2012 and 376(2)(i) of IPC.

Thus, on being dissatisfied with the finding the appellant approached the High Court.

Submissions of the appellant

Appellant assailed the impugned judgment on the grounds that although the victim alleged that he had sexually assaulted her on several occasions she did not complain of it either to her parents or anyone else.

The victim complained that the appellant used to frequently come to her home and sexually assault her when she was alone and she had narrated the incident to PW5 who however failed to endorse this evidence of PW9. Contrarily PW1 deposed that appellant told him that the victim had lured him to have sexual intercourse with her.

Even the minority of the victim stood unestablished and the trial court in the absence of any evidence opined that the victim was not a minor. Hence, the appellant be acquitted of the charges.

Submissions by Additional Public Prosecutor

He argued that although the prosecution had furnished the birth certificate of the victim before the trial court in the absence of supporting documents it was not considered. The said document was never contested by the appellant which therefore was an acceptance of the fact that the victim was a minor.

Relying only on the statement of the victim, it was contended that she has specifically stated that the Appellant had requested her to have sex with him holding out the promise that her deformities would be cured if she consented and acted on the consent.

Mother of the victim corroborated the evidence of PW9 as she had stated that on a relevant day, the victim came running to her and told that the appellant had entered the and forcibly laid her on the bed, taken off her lower garment and rubbed his penis on the vagina.

Hence it was stated that no error emanates in trial court’s ruling.

Decision of the High Court

High Court noted that the birth certificate was not contested by the appellant; the trial court chose to ignore it in the absence of supporting documents. Thus, it follows that the age of the victim has not been established.

Court also took note of the evidence of PW6 from which it was clear that the witness has not explained as to whether the laxity of the hymen was a result of the occurrence of the alleged incidents or whether the hymen was lax prior to the incidents or for that matter whether medical science can at all point to the age of the laxity enabling the Court to draw a correct conclusion.

In absence of any categorical and cogent statement of PW6 in this context and in the absence of fresh injuries on the genital or person of the victim, medical report is of no assistance to the prosecution case and neither can the offence of the appellant be foisted.

What does Section 375 of Penal Code, 1860 say?

Appellant was convicted under Section 376(2)(n) and Section 376(2)(I) IPC.

Offence of rape is described in Section 375 of the Penal Code which, inter alia, requires penetration of the perpetrator’s penis to any extent, into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of the victim or he makes her do so with him or any other person or that he inserts, to any extent, any object or a part of the body, not being the penis, into the vagina, the urethra or anus of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person.

Rape would also occur if the accused manipulates any part of the body of a woman so as to cause penetration into the vagina, urethra, anus or any part of body of such woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person or the accused applies his mouth to the vagina, anus, urethra of a woman or makes her to do so with him or any other person.

These acts must necessarily be against the will of the victim, sans her consent and if her consent is obtained by putting her in fear of death or hurt or any of the seven descriptions enumerated in Section 375 IPC.

Observation of the Court

Victim had claimed that there was sexual assault and therefore Court cannot arrive at a hasty conclusion. It was imperative for the prosecution to have extracted from the victim during her deposition the actual act that was committed on her considering that the prosecution is under the mandate of proving its case beyond all reasonable doubt which means that it cannot leave its case to ambiguities thereby leading to erroneous conclusions.

All of the above-stated explains that the appellant does not satisfy the ingredients of Section 375 IPC.

Thus, the Court was of the considered opinion that trial court erred in arriving at the finding and in High Court’s opinion the offence is one under Section 354A (1)(i) IPC.

The appeal is allowed to the extent above. [Tshering Tempa Sherpa v. State of Sikkim, 2019 SCC OnLine Sikk 188, decided on 12-11-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a ghastly case involving rape and murder of 2 children, the 3-judge bench of RF Nariman, Surya Kant and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ has refused to review their verdict in Manoharan v. State, (2019) 7 SCC 716, upholding  the conviction of the accused. In the said judgment, the bench had unanimously upheld the conviction, but gave 2:1 verdict on quantum of punishment.

While Nariman and Surya Kant, JJ awarded death penalty, Khanna, J did not think that this case was fit for a death penalty and hence, commuted it to imprisonment for life i.e. till convict’s natural life with a stipulation that he would not be entitled to remission under Sections 432 and 433 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

  • In October 2010, accused Mohanakrishnan & Manoharan kidnapped a 10-year-old girl & her 7-year-old brother while they were preparing to leave for school.
  • The children were taken to a remote area and rape was committed on the girl.
  • Attempt was made to kill both the children by feeding them poisonous cow dung powder mixed in milk. However, the children took only a small amount of the milk and didn’t die.
  • The children were then thrown away alive in the Parambikulam-Axhiyar Project canal.
  • Both the accused were arrested but Mohanakrishnan was later shot dead in an encounter.

MITIGATING FACTORS CONSIDERED BY THE COURT IN THE REVIEW PETITION

Lack of adequate opportunity to place on record material/evidence of mitigating circumstances

After re-visiting the mitigating circumstances against aggravating circumstances, as well as a report commissioned by this Court during the course of appeal and submitted by the jail superintendent, the Court held that the conduct of the Petitioner is merely satisfactory and he has not undertaken any study or anything else to show any signs of reformation.

Backward socioeconomic circumstances

There is nothing to support the arguments that the accused is a helpless, illiterate young adult who is a victim of his socioeconomic circumstances. Far from being so, it is clear through the version of events that the accused had the presence of mind to craft his own defence and attempt to retract his confession through an elaborately written eleven page letter addressed to the Magistrate and had further received adequate legal representation.

Remorse

Accused’s advocate argued that the retraction letter shows that he stopped the co-accused from committing rape and this is evident of the fact that he has remorse which entitles him to commutation, if not acquittal. The Court, however, held that the retraction was extremely belated and only a defence to shield himself. Further, medical evidence has proved that rape was committed on the deceased girl. It is hence factually incorrect to state that the Petitioner prevented the co-accused from raping the girl and is nothing more than a belated lie at the end of the trial.

Young age and aged parents

Mere young age and presence of aged parents cannot be grounds for commutation. Such young age poses a continuous burden on the State and presents a longer risk to society, hence warranting more serious intervention by Courts.

Criminal Record

The Court refused to give leeway of the lack of criminal record, considering that the current crime was not just one offence, but comprised of multiple offences over the series of many hours.

The bench held that the present case is essentially one where two accused misused societal trust to hold as captive two innocent school-going children, one of whom was brutally raped and sodomised, and thereupon administered poison and finally, drowned by throwing them into a canal. It was not in the spur of the moment or a crime of passion; but craftily planned, meticulously executed and with multiple opportunities to cease and desist.

Nariman and Surya Kant, JJ, hence, held

“We are of the view that the present offence(s) of the Petitioner are so grave as to shock the conscience of this Court and of society and would without doubt amount to rarest of the rare.”

While Khanna, J agreed with his learned brothers on the dismissal of review petition and upholding of the conviction of the accused, on the question of sentence, he held,

“I do not see any good ground and reasons to review my observations and findings in the minority judgment.”

[Manoharan v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1433, decided on 07.11.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In an appeal against the verdict of Gujarat High Court that quashed the criminal proceedings against a man accused for sexually assaulting and blackmailing his employee, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Indu Malhotra and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ has set aside the verdict and held that the High Court has got carried away by the agreement/settlement arrived at, between the parties, and recorded a finding that the physical relationship of the appellant with the respondent was consensual.

The Court said,

“where sexual intercourse by the accused is proved and the question is whether it was without the consent of the woman alleged to have been raped, and such woman states in her evidence before the Court that she did not consent, the court shall presume that she did not consent.”

The Court was hearing the case where the respondent had taken inappropriate pictures of the appellant while she was asleep. He had gone to visit the appellant when she was unwell. Taking advantage of the situation, he started blackmailing her to make viral her pictures and to terminate her employment. He then started committing rape on her. When she resigned from the job, he contacted her fiancé and told him is not of good character, she had physical relationship with him and with other boys. When the fiancé refused to meet him, he sent a cover to his residence containing her nude/inappropriate pictures. The parties later entered into a written agreement wherein it was agreed that the dispute between the parties is settled and that the respondent has allegedly paid a huge amount to the appellant.

The Court noticed that whether the respondent by clicking inappropriate pictures of the appellant has blackmailed her or not, and further whether he has continued to interfere by calling appellant’s fiancé or not are the matters for investigation. It, hence, held that the High Court should not have made a roving inquiry while considering the application filed under Section 482 CrPC.

Holding that the High Court has got carried away by the agreement/settlement arrived at, between the parties, and recorded a finding that the physical relationship of the appellant with the respondent was consensual, the Court said,

“When it is the allegation of the appellant, that such document itself is obtained under threat and coercion, it is a matter to be investigated.”

[Miss XYZ v. State of Gujarat, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1619 OF 2019, decided on 25.10.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court:

“The heinous crime committed should not be led into prosecuting a person only because he was part of the Management of the School.”

The bench of L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta, JJ said while quashing the trial against a member of the School management in a case relating to sexual assault of a 6-year-old girl in her school in Haldwani.

The FIR filed by the father of the prosecuterix mentioned that a teacher had sexually assaulted his daughter. In the first statement recorded, the prosecuterix mentioned that the teacher had deliberately and repeatedly assaulted her. However, in another statement, she stated that after she returned from washroom, two Uncles came and picked her away. She also mentioned that these two persons work outside school. She said that one of them wore spectacles. The father of the prosecutrix filed an application to summon the person who wears spectacles, as identified by the victim. She then identified the appellant as the bespectacled person. The principal of the School, however, in a statement issued by her, said that the anger was directed against the Management of the School of which the appellant is a part and hence, his name was dragged in a offence he never committed.

Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court noticed that the prosecutrix is a small child. It is parents of the child who have taken the photographs either from the website of the School or from the Facebook to introduce a person with spectacles as an accused. The initial version of the father of the prosecutrix and of the prosecutrix herself, as disclosed by her father in the FIR, is assault by one person. It said that even if the father of the child has basis to be angry with the Management of the School but, there is no prima facie case of any active part on the part of the appellant is made out in violating the small child. The involvement of other persons on the statement of the child of impressionable age does not inspire confidence that the appellant is liable to be proceeded under Section 319 of the Code. In fact, it is suggestive role of the family which influences the mind of the child to indirectly implicate the appellant.

“Obviously, the father of the child must have anger against the Management of the School as his child was violated when she was studying in the School managed by the appellant but, we find that the anger of the father against the Management of the School including the appellant is not sufficient to make him to stand trial for the offences punishable under Section 376(2) of the IPC read with Sections 5/6 of the POCSO Act.”

The Court also took note of the fact that the prosecution after investigations has found no material to charge the appellant. It, hence, held that statement of the child so as to involve a person wearing spectacles as an accused does not inspire confidence disclosing more than prima facie to make him to stand trial of the offences. Therefore, the order of summoning the appellant under Section 319 of the Code is not legal.

[Mani Pushpak Joshi v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1362, decided on 17.10.2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: Arindam Lodh, J. allowed the appeal and acquitted the appellant from the charges framed under Sections 376(1), 354 and 451 of the Penal Code, 1860 (rape, assault or criminal force to women with intent to outrage her modesty and house trespass respectively).

An FIR was filed against the appellant by a 12 year old victim girl and her mother charging him under Sections 376(1), 354 and 451 of Penal Code, 1860 which further led to the Sessions trial where the additional Sessions Judge passed a judgment against the appellant convicting him for the said charges and punishing him with fine and imprisonment. The accused then filed an appeal against the following judgment of the trial court.

S. Sarkar, learned counsel for the appellant, contended that the statements of the victim and the witnesses have recorded however during cross-examination the victim and the most of the witnesses denied their previous statements which was doubtful on part of the prosecution. The victim also stated that she narrated false facts as she was threatened by her mother. Also the prosecution was unable to explain to why the FIR was filed 2 days later and not on the same day. On comparing statements of the victim’s mother with the records, it was found that she was lying about her absence and the facts. Moreover, as per the medical examination report and the statement of the doctor, it was proved that the victim was not subjected to rape or any kind of physical violence.

High Court opined that the prosecution had failed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. It also took into account that it was unable to understand the reason behind the change of statements of the victim. Relying on the judgment in Panchhi v. State of Uttar Pradesh,  (1998) 7 SCC 177 the Court held that the evidence of a child witness must be evaluated more carefully before it is relied on, as a child can get swayed easily by others guidance. Hence, the court opined that it was risky to convict the appellant under Section 376 of IPC. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the appellant was acquitted. [Bimal Acharjee v. State of Tripura, Crl. A (J) 10 of 2014, decided on 04-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A.M. Badar, J., allowed a petition filed against the order of the Additional Sessions Judge whereby the application filed by the accused-petitioners for issuing summons to a witness for adducing evidence was rejected.

The petitioners, husband and in-laws of the complainant, were accused of offences punishable under Sections 498-A, 323, 504, 376, 109 read with 34 IPC. The complainant had alleged that the petitioners subjected her to cruelty and that her father-in-law committed rape on her on multiple occasions. After the conclusion of prosecution arguments, the petitioners moved an application before the trial court invoking its powers under Section 311 IPC for summoning one Dr D.C. Patil or his representative. It was contended that evidence of Dr D.C. Patil was essential for a just decision of the case, as the complainant got herself examined by the said doctor often, and on few occasions even on dates when the commission of rape is alleged. The application was, however, rejected by the trial court noting that it was filed at a belated stage only to fill lacunae in the defence case.

The High Court, at the outside, observed that the power of the court to summon a material witness has vast amplitude. For understanding the purport of the term “lacunae”, the Court relied on Rajendraprasad v. Narcotic Cell, (1999) 6 SCC 110. Relying on the discussion of the Supreme Court in the said case, the High Court observed: “Delay in applying for summoning the defence witness cannot be termed as ‘lacuna’ in the defence.” It was noted that the petitioners were pressing for Dr Patil’s examination disclosed the fact of an alleged rape to the doctor she was visiting regularly.

It was further noted that the trial court took noted the fact the complainant denied the prescription issued by Dr Patil after examining her. However, the trial took a shortcut by holding that the said prescription can bean exhibit for the purpose of identification and, therefore, it is not necessary to examine Dr Patil. The Court was of the view that the trial court erred in holding that by marking the prescriptions as exhibits for the purpose of identification, the purpose is served. It was observed: “Merely placing the document in original for the perusal of the court would not be adequate to prove the event embodied within the contents of such document. For proving the contents of those documents, a witness to the execution of the document is required to be examined. The document is required to be proved by examining the author thereof — trial court cannot look into such hearsay evidence by making it admissible in a circuitous way, by exhibiting the same.”

It was held that the petitioners had made out a case of summoning Dr Patil, as his evidence is necessary for a just decision of the case. the petition was allowed and the impugned order was set aside. [Khajasab Suleiman v. State of Maharashtra,              2019 SCC OnLine Bom 2919decided on 16-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Vibhu Bhakru, J. while disposing of the petition upheld the decision of the trial court on finding no infirmity in its decision.

The present petitioner sought leave to appeal against the Judgment passed by Additional Sessions Judge.

Background

FIR was lodged pursuant to a complaint filed by Ms ‘P’ and the proceedings for the same commenced under Section 376, Penal Code, 1860. Ms ‘P’ stated that she had developed a friendship with the accused in the year 2013 and over a span of two years the same transformed into a love affair. She had been meeting the accused regularly and he had promised to marry her.

On one occasion, the accused had invited Ms ‘P’ to his house to meet his mother and later, the respondent bolted the door and raped her despite her resistance. However, he had also promised to marry her and had asked her not to disclose the said incident. Further, the allegations placed by Ms ‘P’ were that the respondent had taken her to a hotel and had thereafter, raped her. Although he had promised to marry her, he had resiled from his promise.

After the above incidents, Ms ‘P’ approached the police statement and got her statement recorded, though she declined to get an internal medical examination.

Court’s Observation and Analysis

Fact that the respondent established a physical relationship cannot be disputed. Ms ‘P’ checked into the hotel with the respondent and checked out from the same next morning, clearly shows that they both had booked the hotel for physical intimacy.

Trial Court rightly observed that the only question to be considered was whether Ms P had consented for the physical relationship under a false promise of marriage.

High Court noted that accused had evinced his intention to marry Ms ‘P’ more than two years before the alleged incident of the accused establishing a physical relationship with her. Further, the Court stated that, Ms P’s testimony that she had objected to the accused touching her obscenely but had yielded on him promising marriage, is difficult to accept.

The only reservation of the High Court to the conclusion of trial court was that the implicit assumption that the accused was not on trial for not marrying Ms P. The accused was not trial for not marrying Ms P, but on an allegation of committing the offence of rape.

Another significant noting of the High Court was that,

“It is important to bear in mind that two consenting adults establishing a physical relationship, is not crime. Jilting a lover, however abhorrent that it may seem to some, is also not an offence punishable under the Penal Code, 1860.”

Prosecutrix in the present case claims that her consent was not voluntary but was obtained by inducing her on the pretext of a promise to marry. Plainly, this is not established in this case. Prosceutrix had three months after the first alleged incident of rape, voluntarily checked into a hotel with the accused. Clearly, this was a voluntary act; there is no merit in the contention that this act was induced by a promise of marriage.

Additionally, in view of the above, the Court also added that,

Inducement to have a physical relationship by promising marriage must have a clear nexus with the moment promise of marriage cannot be held out as an inducement for engaging in sex over a protracted and indefinite period of time.

In the present case, prosecutrix appears to have used the allegation of inducement of a physical relationship on the promise of marriage, to not only justify her physical relationship with the accused in the past, but also her conduct after the FIR was filed. In her testimony, she had explained that she had done so because the accused had contacted her and again reiterated his promise to get married to her.

Thus the petition in the above terms is accordingly dismissed. [State v. Sandeep, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 10332, decided on 25-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Alexander Thomas, J. disposed of a matter wherein a complaint was lodged against the petitioner accusing of committing rape and cheating.

In the present case, the complainant, a married lady whose divorce proceedings were still underway had advertised in the matrimonial column of a newspaper seeking a response from interested persons in respect of her marriage proposal. The petitioner responded to the same by agreeing to marry the complainant. Based on the assurance, both the parties shared an intimate relationship and indulged in sexual intercourse. However, later, the petitioner showed disinterest in the marriage proposal.

It has been stated by the complainant that the petitioner had taken Rs 2 lakhs from her and also her gold ornaments coming to 35 sovereigns and that she has been cheated and that she had given her consent to have sexual intercourse with the petitioner only on the basis of the assurance that he would marry her and that the petitioner has committed the abovesaid offences.

The complainant was filed under Section 376 of the Penal Code, 1860.

The Counsel representing the petitioner, V. John Mani, submitted that the complainant had suppressed facts from the petitioner by seeking marriage from the petitioner despite being a married woman at that point of time as the divorce proceedings were still underway and thus, it was the petitioner who had been cheated. Further, it was submitted that there was a falsification of facts when the complainant stated that the petitioner had borrowed money and gold ornaments, since, the complainant had extracted amount more than five lakhs from the petitioner.

In addition to the above, it was stated that the arrest and detention of the petitioner is absolutely illegal and ultra vires and that going by the admitted allegations in the FIS, the Police has committed a serious illegality in arresting the petitioner and that the arrest and detention of the petitioner is against the binding decisions of the Supreme Court and various High Courts in respect of the legal position relating to the lawful arrest of the accused persons in such cases.

The public prosecutor for the state, T.R. Renjith contended that the Police was given 3 days time for custodial interrogation of the petitioner, after his remand and that the petitioner has not co-operated with the investigating officer in respect of the recovery of the gold ornaments alleged to have been taken by the petitioner from the lady and that the petitioner is likely to threaten or intimidate the complainant, if he is let out on bail.

High Court upon perusal of the facts and circumstances of the case expressed its dissatisfaction with the police authorities arresting the petitioner for the period of time in a case wherein the complainant herself had requested for marriage proposals despite not being lawfully declared as divorced from the former marriage.

Adding to the above, Court stated that, “the petitioner has got a specific case that the lady has suppressed the fact that she was twice married and that though she had secured divorce in respect of her first marital relationship, divorce proceedings are still pending in respect of her second marital relationship, etc. The Police is duty-bound to investigate the crucial aspects as to whether the lady is twice married as alleged by the petitioner. If that be so, it is for the Police authorities to take serious note of such aspects which has been suppressed by the lady defacto complainant in her FIS.”

Thus, bail was granted to the petitioner, however with certain conditions of not committing any offence while on bail, not interacting with the complainant or tampering with evidence. [Prasanth Nelson v. State of Kerala, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 2934, decided on 18-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: Rajarshi Bhardwaj, J., addressed an appeal arising out of a judgment and order of conviction passed by the Additional District and Sessions Judge sentencing the appellant to suffer rigorous imprisonment and fine along with the payment of compensation to the victim for commission of offence punishable under Sections 376 and 511 of Penal Code, 1860.

The present matter pertains to the contentions and facts that the victim during school hours went to use the toilet and at that time the appellant entered into the toilet and committed rape upon the victim girl.

A complaint was filed in regard to the stated prosecution case after which the officer-in-charge initiated the case under Section 376 (2) of the Penal Code, 1860. The accused was arrested and produced before the Court. Charges were framed against the accused under Sections 376 and 511 of the Penal Code.

Tapan Dutta Gupta, Counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant submitted that the case was concocted out of political rivalry and was established by the defence.

Advocate for the State submitted that the version of the victim has been corroborated by other witnesses, the appeal is liable to be dismissed. Some of the statements of the prosecution witnesses are mentioned below in order to understand the victim’s stand better:

  • PW-1, father of the victim stated that on returning from school, victim girl told him that in the school she had gone to attend her nature’s call and that was the time when the accused entered into the latrine and forcibly committed rape upon her.
  • PW-2, Victim herself stated that on the fateful day she went to the latrine of the school accompanied by her elder sister. She forgot to lock the room of the toilet from inside and at that time the accused entered into the toilet room and pressed his penis in her private part and when she started crying, the accused fled away from the spot.
  • PW-5, the Medical officer, stated that the victim girl did not face any intercourse, though, during the examination, swelling was found over both vulva present and reddish discolouration inside labia minora. Such type of injury may be caused if any person tries to insert his penis in the vagina of a girl aged about 6 years.

Therefore, it appears from the evidence on record that the victim girl was a minor on the date of incident.

High Court stated that, although it has been desperately argued that the appellant was not present at the time of the incident, no such plea was raised nor any evidence led to probabilise, such plea of alibi on behalf of the appellant during the trial.

Hence, in view of the above discussion, appellant is found guilty of the offence punishable under Sections 376 and 511 of the penal Code, 1860 and further sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for 5 years and to pay fine of Rs 4,000 only, in default to suffer simple imprisonment for 6 months is modified to the extent that the appellant was sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment of 5 years and fine of Rs 4,000 in default to suffer simple imprisonment for another 1 month.

Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.[Pratap Dolai v. State of West Bengal, 2019 SCC OnLine Cal 2306, decided on 06-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of Pradeep Nandrajog, CJ and Bharati Dangre, J. disposed of clubbed appeals arising out of the same criminal matter, and convicted the accused of the offence of rape punishable under Section 376 IPC.

The accused was alleged to have taken away and raped the prosecutrix, who was a minor at the time of the commission of offence. He was convicted by the trial court for offences under Sections 363, 366-A and 376 IPC. On appeal to Sessions Court, his conviction under Section 376 was reversed, however, remaining part of the trial court order was confirmed. The State and the accused, both, filed appeals before the High Court.

On facts of the case, the High Court held that the offence under Sections 363 and 366-A IPC were not proved against the accused. However, since the prosecutrix was 14 years of age at the time of commission of offence, her consent to the sexual act does not matter. His acquittal by Sessions Court for the offence punishable under Section 376 IPC was thus reversed.

Next, the Court considered that at the time of commission of offence, the accused was about 16 years of age — a juvenile. On the aspect of sentencing, it was observed:

”At the time when the accused and the prosecutrix were in love and did the act which, to the misfortune of the accused, attracted the penal laws, his age was 16 years and 2 months. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2010 followed by the Act of 2015 had not come into force. Under the two Acts, the age of juvenility was enhanced from 16 years to 18 years. In the decision reported as Hari Ram v. State of Rajasthan, (2009) 13 SCC 211, even in pending matters before the trial court or in the appeal the benefit of said acts has to be accorded to the accused and thus deciding the three appeals today, it would be our duty to extend the benefit of Juvenile Justice Act, 2010 and 2015 to the accused. As per clause (g) of sub-Section (1) of Section 18 of the Juvenile Justice Act, the accused can, at best, be directed to be sent to Special Home for such period not exceeding three years so that the Accused can be reformed. It would be futile, therefore, to pass an order as contemplated by law for the reasons for the year 2019, the age of the accused is 38 years.”

Accordingly, the accused was convicted as aforesaid but no sentence was imposed on him since as of today, the accused was no longer a Juvenile. The appeals were disposed of accordingly.[State of Maharashtra v. Hemant Ashokkumar Mittal, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 1670, decided on 22-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Sikkim High Court: The Division Bench comprising of Vijai Kumar Bist, CJ and Bhaskar Raj Pradhan, J. partly allowed an appeal filed under Section 374 (2) of CrPC.

The above-stated appeal was directed against the judgment and order passed by the Court of the Fast Track Judge, whereby the Court convicted the accused/appellant Sangay Bhutia under Sections 376(1), 323 and 341 of the Penal Code, 1860.

According to the prosecution story, as stated, a report was lodged by the husband (PW 2) of the victim stating that while his wife was returning to her house from her duty, Sangay Bhutia suddenly appeared from the back and grabbed her from behind and started assaulting her on the head when she shouted for help. Following it, she became unconscious and when she regained consciousness she found that the accused already ran away from the spot. Thereafter, the victim went to her house and told the same to her husband.

Case was committed to the Court of Sessions Judge and the charges against the accused were framed under Sections 323, 341 and 376 of Penal Code, 1860. Thereafter, accused/appellant was also examined by the Court where he denied all the allegations against him.

Learned Counsel for the appellant Manita Pradhan, submitted that, the Court below has committed grave error both on facts and law in passing the impugned judgment. Adding to her submission, she stated that the trial judge failed to appreciate the fact that the victim never told PW2 her husband that after she regained consciousness she found her trousers and underwear been pulled down while she was in a state of unconsciousness.

Trial Court also failed to appreciate the fact that the victim admitted that she cannot say for sure if she had been raped by the appellant/accused while she was unconscious. Allegation of her being raped is not corroborated by any evidence or witnesses and in absence of any corroboration, suspicion of victim cannot be equated with proof and cannot form basis of conviction.

Counsel for the appellant relied on the case of Ramdas v. State of Maharashtra, (2007) 2 SCC 170, wherein it was held that,

“Conviction in a case of rape can be based solely on the testimony of the prosecutrix, but that can be done in a case where the Court is convinced about the truthfulness of the prosecutrix and there exist no circumstances which casts a shadow of doubt over her veracity.”

The High Court after carefully noting the submissions of the parties and considering the facts and circumstances of the case concluded the matter by stating that,

“It is true that the sole testimony of the victim is sufficient to convict an accused. It is absolutely correct that no self-respecting woman would falsely state that she had been raped.”

But, the Court is supposed to evaluate the evidence of the victim more carefully if medical evidence does not support the commission of sexual assault on the victim. In the present case, the victim’s statement implies that she was not sure of whether she was rape or not and neither the evidence of her husband PW 2 mentioned the same. Medical report also does not suggest that the victim was raped.

Therefore, the appellant is acquitted from the charge under Section 376(1) along with the sentence being set aside, though the Court made it clear that it would not mean that the prosecution case is totally false.

Thus, the charges under Sections 323 and 341 of Penal Code, 1860 were proved and the finding of the trial court in that regard stands affirmed. [Sangay Bhutia v. State of Sikkim, 2019 SCC OnLine Sikk 121, decided on 23-08-2019]