Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Bharati Dangre, J., while addressing a petition with regard to the rape of a minor girl, made an observation that:

“Rape” is just not a forcible intercourse, it means to inhabit and destroy everything.

A minor victim girl registered a complaint based on which offences for Sections 376, 354-D, 506 of Penal Code, 1860 were invoked against the applicant.

Since the complaint was registered by a minor, provisions of Sections 3, 4, 11 and 12 of the Protection of Children from the Sexual Offences Act, 2012 were also invoked.

Victim who was acquainted with the applicant who was a business partner of the victim’s father.

She alleged that from the month of October, 2019, the applicant started texting her on her Whatsapp and expressed his liking towards her and also sought sexual favours from her, which was turned down by the victim girl.

Applicant sent a message to the victim stating that he wanted to discuss an important family matter with her and asked her to meet the next day. Next day, when she was waiting for a bus to arrive the applicant approached her on a two-wheeler and she was asked to accompany him.

She was then taken to a nearby farmhouse and by making an emotional appeal and threatening that she if did not agree, he will commit suicide, she was forced to commit sexual intercourse with him. She was also threatened that she should not disclose the incident to her parents and if she does so, it would adversely affect the partnership business.

Again after the above incident, the applicant forced the victim in a similar manner and indulged with her physically.

After a few days of the second incident, the victim disclosed it to her parents and after due deliberation, the report was lodged.

Bench on perusal of the above stated that it is not very unlikely that a young girl aged 17 years became disquieted after the act of ravage and did not gather the courage to speak to her parents about the said incident.

The victim girl was also conscious of the fact that the applicant was a business partner of her father.

The whole episode of the applicant indulging with a minor girl, a daughter of his business partner itself speak of his intention.

FIDUCIARY RELATIONSHIP

Court further observed that the applicant took advantage of the fiduciary relationship, which he shared with the victim girl and put her in a vulnerable situation.

CONSENT

Assuming but not accepting that the victim girl consented for maintaining the physical relationship, her consent is not free consent.

Further, adding to the above, penal code does not recognise the consent by a minor girl to be consent in the eyes of law and in the present case, in the backdrop of narration by the victim, her consent can naturally be said to be induced by a fiduciary relationship which she shared and on that count also, it is not free consent.

“Offence of rape as defined in Section 375 of the IPC, made punishable under Section 376, is attracted when a man commits an act of rape without the consent of the girl or when such consent is obtained by putting her in fear of death or of hurt. The hurt may be physical or mental.”

The consent of the victim girl under 18 years of age is also of no legal consequences when it comes to an offence of rape punishable under Section 376 IPC.

In view of the above observations, High Court did not release the applicant on bail and rejected the bail application. [Amit Raosao Patil v. State of Maharashtra, Bail Application No. 1813 of 2020, decided on 09-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Suresh Kumar Gupta, J., while addressing the present jail appeal held that,

“…in cases involving sexual assault/rape, it is generally difficult to find any corroborative witnesses, except the victim herself and therefore, the evidence of the victim is sufficient for conviction unless there exist compelling reasons for seeking corroboration.”

Appellant has been convicted and sentenced under Section 376 of Penal Code, 1860 for 10 years rigorous imprisonment alongwith a fine of Rs 20,000 and in default of payment of fine, two years additional imprisonment, under Section 342 IPC for six months imprisonment alongwith fine of Rs 500 and in default of payment of fine fifteen days additional imprisonment and under Section 506 IPC for 2 years rigorous imprisonment alongwith fine of Rs 1000 and in default of payment of fine, one-month additional imprisonment. All the sentences shall run concurrently.

Trial Court held the accused guilty and convicted him for the charged offences as aforesaid.

Counsel for the appellant Deepak Rana and AGA for the State is Sri Jai Prakash Tripathi.

Bench observed that it is a settled principle of law that in cases involving sexual assault/rape, it is generally difficult to find any corroborative witnesses, except the victim herself and therefore, the evidence of the victim is sufficient for conviction unless there exist compelling reasons for seeking corroboration. Thus, a conviction can be sustained on the sole testimony of the prosecutrix, if it inspires confidence.

In Gagan Bihari Samal v. State of Orissa, (1991) 3 SCC 562 Supreme Court of India whilst observing that corroboration is not the sine qua non for conviction in a rape case, held as follows :

In cases of rape, generally, it is difficult to find any corroborative witnesses except the victim of the rape. It has been observed by this Court in Bharwada Bhoginbhai Hirjibhai v. State of Gujarat,(1983) 3 SCC 217.

Further, it is also a well-settled principle of law that the testimony of child witness can be relied upon along with other circumstances and corroborative evidence to convict the accused. Undoubtedly, the settled proposition of law that the evidence of child witness is required to be scrutinised and appreciated with great caution.

Court in view of the well-settled law examined whether the evidence adduced by the prosecution, particularly the testimony of the victim is trustworthy, credible and can be relied upon.

Victim clearly stated that she was misled by the accused/appellant Jonny and he took away her to his house and committed rape upon her by extending threat. The statement of PW-2 has also been corroborated by the mother of the victim PW-1.

Further, there are catena of Judgments of the Supreme Court of India that it is necessary for the Court to have a sensitive approach when dealing with the cases of rape.

In the Supreme Court decision of State of Punjab v. Ramdev Singh, (2004) 1 SCC 421  it was held that,

Sexual violence apart from being a dehumanizing act is an unlawful intrusion on the right of privacy and sanctity of a female. It is a serious blow to her supreme honour and offends her self-esteem and dignity.

It degrades and humiliates the victim and where the victim is a helpless innocent child or a minor. It leaves behind a traumatic experience. A rapist not only causes physical injuries but more indelibly leaves a scar on the most cherished possession of a woman i.e. her dignity, honour, reputation and not the least her chastity. Rape is not only a crime against the person of a woman, it is a crime against the entire society.

Bench stated that it has been established that in the absence of a family member of victim, the accused/appellant fraudulently called the victim to his house. On being called the victim reached the house where appellant forcefully committed rape. In these facts and circumstances in an ordinary procedure it cannot be said to be a case of false implication.

Prosecution by cogent and credible evidence is able to prove the charge under Section 376 IPC against the appellant.

In the present matter, victim is a minor and an adult committed rape on a girl of tender age, deterrent punishment is called for, taking a lenient view is out of the question.

Presently the appellant is incarcerated for more than 7 years. Conviction of the appellant is confirmed under Sections 376, 342 & 506 IPC. So on the point of conviction, the appeal is dismissed.

On the quantum of the sentence, this Court thinks that the end of justice would be met if the appellant is sentenced to imprisonment which he has already undergone.

In view of the above, the appeal is finally disposed of. [Jonny v. State of U.P., Jail Appeal No. 343 of 2018, decided on 03-09-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that an 18-year old Dalit girl was found raped and murdered in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh after she stepped out to fill a scholarship form online as she did not have internet access at home. She was a first-generation learner in her family and had aspirations of landing a government job to lift her family out of poverty.

The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police, Uttar Pradesh calling for a detailed report in the matter within 4 weeks. The report must mention the status of the statutory relief and any other assistance provided by the state government to the family of the victim.

Criminal intent

The Commission has observed that apparently, the people with criminal intent have no fear and respect for law and the innocent women, particularly from the vulnerable classes of the society are easily targeted by them. This is the duty of the state to make a fearless environment for its citizens so that they can live with respect and dignity.

Murder

According to the media reports, carried today on 27th August, 2020, the girl was murdered by a man whose marriage proposal she had rejected. The man was arrested on Wednesday. The dead body was found on 25.08.2020 in a dried pond in an area that falls under Neemgaon police station jurisdiction.

Heinous Crime

Reportedly, the girl, second of four children of the family, was the one, the parents had pinned their hopes on. She had just passed class 9th and was about to start her class 10th, the first one from her family to study up to that level. The only source of income for the family is a 2 Bigha plot. The girl aiming to get a Scheduled Caste scholarship would have helped ease some of the financial burden on the family but before it could happen, she became the victim of a heinous crime.


National Human Rights Commission

Press Release dt. 27-08-2020

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: Vijay Kumar Shukla, J., allowed the bail application filed by the applicant-accused in connection with the FIR registered for offence punishable under Sections 376(2)(j), 376(2)(i), 376(2)(n) of the Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 5/6 of POCSO Act.

The alleged facts of the case are such that the applicant has been charged with rape when he sexually exploited the victim aged between 13-15 and who happens to be mentally challenged. The applicant has been in custody for the past nine months.

Counsel for the respondent, Jagat Singh reiterated the victim’s mother’s statement and mentions that the present case is made out of the same.

It was contended by Vikas Mishra, counsel for the applicant that the offence could not be attributed to the applicant because of the sole reason that the applicant is physically incapable of performing the act of sexual intercourse. As per the MLC diagnosis of the applicant, it is not humanly possible for him to commit the crime he’s been charged with as he is physically incapable of performing sexual intercourse.

The Court while pronouncing the judgment, took his medical condition into consideration.

Hence, the Court upon perusal of the facts, circumstances and arguments observed that it has been established that the applicant is not medically fit and competent to perform the act of sexual intercourse. Further, considering that the applicant has been in jail since 11-11-2019, the present application has been allowed.

In view of the above, the applicant has been granted bail. [Vanshdhari Kol v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2020 SCC OnLine MP 1844, decided on 28-08-2020]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Court of Appeal of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: A Division Bench of K.K. Wickremasinghe and Devika Abeyratne, JJ., allowed a Revision Application which was filed in order to set aside the order of the High Court Judge of Kandy and impose an appropriate sentence.

The prosecutrix was aged 12 years at the time of the commission of the alleged offence committed by her biological father and he was booked under two charges first one being Section 364 (3) of the Penal Code amended by Act no. 22 of 1995 and secondly under Section 365 B (2) b of the Penal Code amended by Act No. 22 of 1995. When the charges were being read out the accused-respondent had pleaded not guilty and later before the conclusion of evidence he had pleaded guilty to both charges. Accordingly, the High court had imposed 1-year rigorous imprisonment suspended for 20 years and a fine of Rs 10,000 for both the charges each. He was also ordered to give Rs 2,00,000 to the prosecutrix as compensation.

The Counsel for the petitioner, Chathuri Wijesuriya had submitted various grounds as exceptional circumstances which warranted exercising revisionary jurisdiction the Court which included Lawful sentence to be imposed as per the amended Penal Code, Applicability of SC Appeal No. 17 of 2013 and factors to be considered while determining a sentence.

The Court relied on a number of landmark Judgments as of The Attorney General v. H.N. de Silva, 57 NLR 121; Attorney General v. Jinak Sri Uluwaduge, [1995] 1 Sri LR 157; The Attorney General v. Mendis, [1995] 1 Sri LR 138 and concluded that the accused-respondent should have been given deterrent punishment. The Court while allowing the Revision Application stated that the Respondent had committed the grave crime with proper pre-planning to his own daughter thus the sentence imposed by the High Court was grossly inadequate. The Court further modified the sentence making the imprisonment of 15 years in the first charge and 7 years in the second charge respectively. [Attorney General v. Hewaduragedara Nilantha Dilruksha Kumara, CA (PHC) APN: 01 of 2017, decided on 26-08-2020]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: P.V. Kunhikrishnan, J., allowed the anticipatory bail application of the applicant-accused in connection with the FIR registered for offence punishable under Section 376 read with Section 34 of the Penal Code, 1860.

The factual matrix of the case is such that it has been alleged that the applicant has committed rape on the victim in room No. 8 of Kripa Annex, Ernakulam North with the help of the co-accused.

Counsel for the applicant, Latheesh Sebastian has vehemently denied these allegations levelled against the applicant by submitting that the accused and the victim are in love and that the case has resulted out of a misunderstanding with the father in law of the victim. The father-in-law of the victim who happens to be the de-facto complainant has filed an affidavit in this Court stating that the marriage of the applicant and victim has been fixed. The victim has also forwarded an affidavit stating that she has no objections if the present proceedings are quashed. The counsel stated that he is in the process of getting the proceedings quashed. With the quash proceedings at the brink, it would be an act of grave injustice if the applicant is arrested.

Counsel for the state while opposing the bail called for the imposition of stringent conditions in a situation where the bail is granted. It’s been stated that the case is made out of the statement given by the victim.

The Court drew an inference from the principle enunciated in the case of P. Chidambaram v. Directorate of Enforcement, (2019) 9 SCC 66 that “bail is the rule and jail is the exception”.

The Court upon perusal of the facts, circumstances and arguments advanced observed that there is a love affair between the victim and the applicant based on the affidavits by the de-facto complainant and the victim. Even though marriage will not wipe off the offence but the fact has to be considered that the victim and accused are on their way of solemnizing a wedding in the near future.

In view of the above, the present application has been allowed, granting anticipatory bail to the applicant.[Amal Sha v. State of Kerala, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 3495, decided on 24-08-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Meghalaya High Court: W. Diengdoh, J., rejected an anticipatory bail application which was filed when an FIR under Section 3(a)/4 of POCSO Act was lodged by the Complainant as the mother of the victim alleging that the petitioner had sexually assaulted and raped her minor daughter, after which she was sent for medical examination. During the time of the formal investigation, the petitioner had approached the Court of the Special Judge (POCSO), who had initially granted interim bail to the petitioner and had called for the case dairy and after finally hearing the parties and had rejected the application of the petitioner ordering him to be arrested in the said case. Thus, the instant application was filed with this Court asking for a grant of pre-arrest bail on the ground that he apprehended arrest.

The counsel for the respondent, K. Khan and A.H. Kharwanlang, opposed the grant of the bail contending that statement of the victim clearly stated that she was raped by the petitioner and statement of the petitioner states his admission to the fact that there was sexual intercourse between him and the victim, who was a minor and therefore commission of offence under Section 3 of the POCSO Act had been made out.

The Court stated that though the petitioner had not strenuously denied that he had committed the alleged offence, he had however tried to cast some doubt on the same by stating that it was very unlikely to have committed the offence as the place of occurrence was the servants’ quarter where there were about nine other employees staying there further after perusal of the medical reports it was seen that the age of the victim was between 16 and 18 years, which basically meant that she was still a minor at the time of occurrence and by law, any act, sexual in nature with a minor is a crime.

Thus, considering the gravity of the offence the application of the anticipatory bail was rejected. [Heiratami Biam v. State of Meghalaya, 2020 SCC OnLine Megh 102, decided on 18-08-2020]


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Chander Bhusan Barowalia J. granted bail to the bail accused of facts and averments presented before him.

The facts of the case are that the prosecutrix made a written complaint wherein she alleged that one day while she was in the jungle grazing the cattle, one Dharmendra Kumar, i. e. accused committed rape and threatened her with life. After she made the complaint the accused was arrested under Section 376, 504, 506 and 354-D(2), Penal Code, 1860 and is behind bars since then. Hence the instant bail petition was filed.

Counsel for the petitioners, Ravi Tanta and Azad Kaith submitted that the accused is 26 years old and is a permanent resident of a nearby village hence he is not in a position to tamper with the evidence or flee from justice hence to keep him in custody for an unlimited period will not be justified.

Counsel for the respondents, S.C. Sharma, P.K. Bhatti and Kamal Kishore submitted that the accused is charged under a serious offence and hence is not liable to be released on bail.

After hearing both sides, the Court found it unfair to keep the accused behind the bars when he will be available for investigation and being a permanent residence of the place is not in a position to tamper with the evidence or flee from justice.

In view of the above, the bail is granted and petition disposed of.[Dharmendra Kumar v. State of H.P, 2020 SCC OnLine HP 1227, decided on 19-08-2020]


*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: M.G. Sewikar, J., denied bail to the applicant accused of deceiving the prosecutrix by giving false promise of marriage who submitted herself for sexual intercourse based on the misconception of facts.

The present application was filed for grant of anticipatory bail for offences registered under Sections 376, 417, 323, 504, 506 of the Penal Code, 1860.

Informant aged 20 years used to go for labour work at a poultry farm, where she got acquainted with the applicant and promised to marry her.

Applicant had sexual intercourse with the informant twice under the promise of marriage.

About 2 months before the filing of the FIR, the applicant called her and demanded sexual favour from the informant, but she denied on the pretext getting married. Applicant got enraged and beat her.

Later, the informant learnt that the applicant was already married.

Counsel for the applicant, R.S. Shinde and V.S. Badakh, APP for the State.

From the FIR filed, it is apparent that the prosecutrix gave consent for the sexual intercourse as the applicant promised to marry her. 

Question to be determined:

Whether the consent of the prosecutrix was a voluntary consent or it was a consent-based on the misconception of facts?

In case of rape under Section 376 of the Penal Code, more particularly, in cases where consent is obtained by giving false promise of marriage, it has to be ascertained whether the accused did not have the intention to marry the prosecutirx right from the inception.

For the above-stated aspect on the matter, the law was settled.

Section 90 of the Penal Code, 1860 talks about “Consent known to be given under fear or misconception” and the essential requirement for that is, the same must have been obtained under the misconception of fact and the accused must be aware that the consent was given in consequence of such fear or misconception.

Court observes that, investigation papers do not reveal that the prosecutrix had the knowledge that the accused was a married man before submitting herself for sexual intercourse. If she had submitted herself for sexual intercourse with full knowledge that the applicant was a married man, the consent would not be vitiated.

In view of Section 5(i) of the Hindu Marriage Act, a person cannot contract second marriage if his or her spouse is living.

In view of the above-stated provision, the applicant could not have legally married the prosecutrix during the subsistence of his marriage.

Further, the Court stated that the accused had knowledge that he would not be able to marry the prosecutrix as long as his marriage is subsisting. This fact clearly shows that the applicant had the intention to deceive the prosecutrix by giving false promise of marriage. Therefore, the consent given by the prosecutrix is vitiated because of the concealment of material fact by the accused from her.

Hence, in view of the above-stated facts, the applicant is not entitled to be released.[Siddharth Ramkrishna Chitte v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 864, decided on 26-06-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Vinay Joshi, J., granted bail to the applicants who were accused of committing offence of unnatural sex without consent and outraging the modesty of a woman.

An FIR was lodged by a grown-up lady aged 41 years old against her husband and brother-in-law.

Allegations placed by the woman were that her husband i.e. Ravi time and again had unnatural sex with her against her consent. She also alleged that her brother-in-law i.e. applicant used to outrage her modesty and was demanding sexual favour.

Another crime was filed by the daughter of the applicant. The girl alleged against her uncle Ravi that while she was studying in 10th standard, he tried touching her inappropriately and outraged her modesty.

Applicants Counsel, S.P. Bhandarkar submitted that both the complaints are nothing but an outcome of matrimonial flued.

Unnatural Sex

Court noted that the marriage of strained couple sailed smoothly for 21 long years and has two children. After such a long time, the wife alleged unnatural sexual acts at the hands of her husband.

Though it is alleged that since inception, the husband was prone to seek unnatural sex, however, after a long gap of 21 years the matter has been reported to the police.

Bench cited the Supreme Court decision in the case of Navtej Singh Johar v. UOI, (2018) 10 SCC 1, wherein it was held that,

“Unnatural consensual sexual acts of adults in private are de-criminalized.”

Non-Consensual

In light of the above-stated decision, the offence would only be attracted if it was done without the consent of the adult.

In the present matter, it has been unfolded that the allegation was running for a period of 20 years, but, the complaint had been lodged thereafter. No medical evidence to support the allegations was placed in the complaint.

Court noted that both the FIRs were simultaneously filed, which speaks for itself.

In view of the above, both the applicants made out a case for grant of pre-arrest bail and Court disposed of the criminal applications. [Rajendra Ramkrushna Malve v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 863, decided on 11-08-2020]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of New Zealand: A Bench comprising Glazebrook, O’ Regan and Ellen France, JJ. dismissed an application for extension of time to apply for leave to appeal, filed by a man convicted of gang-rape and murder whose appeal against conviction had been rejected by the Court of Appeal.

The appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment, along with two other men, for the rape and murder of a woman in 1994. He appealed unsuccessfully to the Court of Appeal against this conviction, and has applied out of time for leave to appeal against that decision in the instant case.

During trial, the appellant had denied any responsibility for the injuries inflicted on the victim and apart from his confession of having consensual intercourse with the victim, there was no forensic evidence linking him to the scene. Moreover, he was not known to the co-accused persons before the incident. In the absence of evidence of direct involvement, he had been charged for forming a common intention with the other men of raping the victim and assisting each other in the act, and that he was aware of the risk that one of the co-accused could inflict grievous injury on the woman for committing rape and/or avoiding detection.

The applicant’s main contention in the first appeal was that there was insufficient evidence for his conviction, particularly the murder verdict. He contended that the interests of justice favour an extension of time, since correction of a miscarriage of justice is more important than the finality of a decision.

The Court accepted the Crown’s submission that the delay in filing this application is significant and largely unexplained. Moreover, the Crown would be prejudiced by the delay, due to the deaths of the defence counsel at trial and the expert witness on confabulation at trial and the absence of the former’s files and of original disks.

The Bench found that “the strength of the proposed grounds of appeal is not such as to provide a compelling reason to extend time.” It found that there are alternative remedies, such as an investigation by the Criminal Cases Review Commission or an application to the Governor-General to exercise the royal prerogative of mercy, which provide a more suitable forum to resolve the factual issues raised by the instant application. The Court rejected the application for extension of time to apply for leave to appeal, stating that the criteria for granting a leave to appeal were not met. [Mikaere Oketopa v. R, [2020] NZ SC 75, decided on 31-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: A Division Bench of Attau Rahman Masoodi and Rajeev Singh, JJ., addressed the matter wherein the Government Counsel who has been alleged for raping a young practicing lawyer, has challenged the FIR lodged against him and sought a direction to police to not arrest him.

Present matter is pertaining to a complaint filed by a Lawyer against a Government Counsel who raped the lawyer in her chamber.

Counsel for the informant prayed for a week’s time to file counter affidavit, to which Court granted the said time.

A.G.A. pointed out that the contents of the FIR reflect that some relevant material was left at the place of occurrence i.e. chamber of the petitioner(accused). In the fitness of things, he prayed that such material may also be taken into custody by the investigating agency as the chamber of the petitioner(accused) is sealed.

Hence, in view of the above, Court in view of being satisfied that a case for intervention is made held that the petitioner (accused) may not be arrested under Sections 328, 354(A), 376 IPC till next date of listing.

Court also directed that petitioner shall co-operate with the investigation by making available as and when called for. He may also not indulge in any activity subjecting the complainant to any intimidation or causing any threat to her life or property. [Shailendra Singh Chauhan v. State of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine All 890, decided on 31-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Bharati Dangre, J., rejected the bail application in view of the offence of gang rape against the applicant.

Applicant was punishable for offences under Section 376 of Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 3, 4, 5(G), 5(J)(II), 6, 8 and 12 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

Applicant’s Counsel Subhash with Samarth Karmarkar, Supriyanka Maurya, Yashpal Purohit submitted that the applicant had been roped into the charge under Section 376(d) IPC without any rhyme and reason.

DNA Report of the child born out of the alleged act of sexual assault did not trace the applicant as the father of the baby girl.

Hence the case for grant of bail was made out according to the applicant.

According to the prosecutrix, she was made to visit the applicant by her friends and then taken to the applicant’s house.

Later, prosecutrix was left alone in the company of applicant, thereafter the applicant and his two friends in a pre-planned manner arrived in his house with some drinking and eating stuff. Prosecutrix on consuming some drink felt dizzy and went off to sleep.

Applicant asked the prosecutrix to rest in bed-room, after which she was raped by applicant and his two friends.

On fearing the outcome of the act, prosecutrix did not reveal the incident or the fact that she was pregnant, to her mother. Prosecutrix was below 18 yrs of age at the time when the incident took place. She delivered a baby girl which has been forwarded to an orphanage and is leading her life there.

Bench took into consideration the fact that the charge against the applicant is serious one of committing gang-rape and taking advantage o a situation of a poor helpless victim girl. He has indulged with two other people into an act of rape.

“Mere fact that the DNA report do not support the paternity is not ground to release the applicant at this stage.”

Court notes that fact that the applicant might pressurize the victim girl on being released, hence no case for his release on bail is made out. [Vaibhav Bhanudas Ubale v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 835, decided on 24-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Bharati Dangre, J., while addressing a bail application made the following observation:

There cannot be a straight jacket formula as to how a woman will react to an act of outrage by a male, since all women are borne into different circumstances in life, go through different things and faces, experience and react differently and necessarily each woman would turn out to be different from the other.

Applicant sought release on bail for being charged with offences under Sections 376, 354-A and 354-B of Penal Code, 1860.

Advocates who appeared in the present matter:

Dr Abhinav Chandrachud with Ms Khushboo Pathak and Mr Wasi Sayyed i/b Mr Prem Pandey for the Applicant.

Mr Ajay Patil, A.P.P. for the State.

Mr Satyam Nimbalkar for the intervener.

Forceful Sexual Intercourse

Complainant was acquainted with the present applicant aged 24 years since past 8 years. Complainant along with her friends went for an overnight Diwali party and somewhere past midnight she went to a bedroom to take rest and went off to sleep. Around 4,30 she was awakened with a feeling and found that someone was forcing himself upon her.

Complainant found that it Applicant who was forcing himself upon her and trying to have sexual intercourse with her by penetrating his penis into her vagina. At this juncture, the Complainant used all possible force to push him away and she was successful in thwarting the sexual overtures by the applicant.

Later, complainant went to find her friends which she couldn’t hence she returned back to the same room where, on not finding the applicant she went off to sleep, but yet again the applicant tried to repeat the same act to which complainant scolded him and left the room.

Distressed Mental Condition

Due to above stated incident, complainant went through mental trauma and was frightened. She narrated the whole episode to her mother and went to a psychiatrist, further she discussed the whole matter with her family and approached the Kondwa Police Station.

Offences were registered under Sections 376, 354 and 354-A of the Penal code, 1860.

Decision

In complainant’s statement, she stated that on applicant trying to establish physical contact with her she raised an alarm to which none of her friends responded, Court was astonished to the said statement.

Another point which seemed incomprehensible was the fact that she did not report the incident to anyone on the same day though she was amidst of the friends and went for an outing. The photographs placed on record would lead to an impression of her being cheerful in the company of the accused and one other friend.

Considering the material placed on record, Court was of the prima facie view that it does not constitute a reasonable ground for believing that the applicant is guilty of the offence charged.

The statements of two witnesses to the effect that the Applicant and the victim were found sleeping in the same room on the same bed will have to be put to test in a trial and this evidence will have to be appreciated cumulatively.

Further the Bench added that,

“…concept of consent of the victim or as to at what stage the consent was revoked and the act of physical indulgence was attempted to be restrained is a matter of trial.”

Court also quoted Warren Buffet,

“If a lady says No, she means may be” or in the expression of Rich Santos for Marie Claire – “Most of us guys have been there; the night ends, we invite the girls come home with us. When a girl says no, we launch into our second and third attempts. Sadly, these attempts are filled with incentives such as promise of guitar playing, of ‘fabulas chicken tenders at the dinner by my place’ or even promises: ‘I will definitely call on the next day’ etc; I have taken girls home after long discussions, changing Nos to Yeses”

above are the old hat tricks and the issue as to whether the girl really consented freely for a physical indulgence with her is to be searched by applying the new standards of modern life and the present social scenario.

On granting bail to the applicant, Court stated that,

Balancing deprivation of his liberty against the possibility of the trial being commencing and concluding in the immediate times is far beyond reality, particularly in the light of the huge galloping pendency which the judicial system would be staring at, at the end of the Covid pandemic. Incarceration of a young boy for an indefinite period would be antithesis to the concept of liberty.

Hence, applicant was granted bail with stringent conditions. [Jitin Mothukiri v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 821 , decided on 21-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: P.B. Suresh Kumar, J.,  overturned the conviction of a rape accused by giving him benefit of doubt.

Case of the Prosecution

In the year 2012, accused committed rape on minor girl aged 15 years and thereby committed the offence punishable under Section 376 of Penal Code, 1860 and Section 5(1) read with Section 6 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

On an examination of the materials on record, the Court below found that the prosecution has not made out a case against the accused under Section 5(l) read with Section 6 of the POCSO Act.

The Court however found that the accused is guilty of the offence punishable under Section 376(2)(f) of the IPC and sentenced the accused.

Accused filed the present petition as he was aggrieved by the sentence and conviction.

Decision

Whether prosecution has established the guilt of the accused under Section 376(2)(f) of IPC?

overt acts attributed against the accused being overt acts allegedly took place prior to Act 13 of 2013, the point to be considered is as to whether the prosecution has established the guilt of the accused under Section 376(2)(f) of the IPC as it stood prior to Act 13 of 2013.

Prosecution failed to establish the age of the victim girl.

Further the Court observed that the medical examination of the victim girl was done after about 5 years.

The mother of the victim girl who was examined as PW3 turned hostile. In a case of this nature, the fact that the mother of the victim girl herself has not given evidence against the accused in support of the prosecution case throws serious doubts as regards the genuineness of the case.

Bench also noted that the version of the victim girl as regards the overt acts attributed against the accused while she was taken to the doctor for medical examination was that the said incidents took place while she was studying in the 6th standard, whereas, as revealed from the extracted portion of the evidence, what was stated by her before the Court was that the said overt acts have been committed by the accused while she was studying in the 5th standard.

Hence, in view of the inconsistent versions with regard to the overt acts alleged against the accused along with absence of any specific evidence, Court did not found it safe to convict the accused.

“…it was found that the prosecution has not proved the age of the victim girl, even if it is admitted that the accused had sexual intercourse with the victim girl, there is absolutely nothing on record to infer that the alleged sexual acts attributed have been committed against the will of the victim girl or without her consent.”

Court also noted that, the overt acts alleged against the accused took place during 2010, whereas the charge in the case is that the accused committed rape on the victim girl during 2012.

Therefore, accused is entitled to the benefit of doubt and criminal appeal is allowed. [Shaik Shiyavulla v. State of Kerala, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 2631 , decided on 09-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Raja Vijayaraghavan V, J., allowed pre-arrest bail to the applicant accused of raping a women whom he allegedly met on facebook.

Accused preferred a pre-arrest bail application for offence punishable under Section 376(1) of the Penal Code, 1860.

Petitioner and informant were in a relationship for 1.5 years and petitioner had promised to marry the informant.

When informant had reached Kozikhode for purchasing some clothes for their marriage, she was taken to a lodge, where both petitioner and informant stayed together and informant was subjected to penetrative sexual abuse.

Petitioner also took some pictures of the informant and threatened with the same to obtain a sum of Rs 40,000 and gold chain.

Decision

Bench noted that according to the de facto complainant, she was in a relationship with the petitioner.

Court relied on the Supreme Court case of Dr Dhruvaram Muralidhar Sonar v. State of Maharashtra [2019 (1) KHC 403] wherein it was held that there is a distinction between rape and consensual sex.

Bench stated in the present matter that the question to be considered is:

Whether the accused had actually wanted to marry the victim or had mala fide motives and had made a false promise to that effect only to satisfy his lust?

“…former is not rape but the latter will fall within the ambit of cheating and deception.”

Distinction between mere breach of a promise and not fulfilling a false promise

Further Court also observed that,

if the consent given by the prosecutrix to sexual intercourse with a person with whom she is deeply in love on a promise that he would marry her on a later date, then such consent cannot be said to be given under a misconception of fact.

Thus, in view of the above, Court’s opinion was that the custodial interrogation of the petitioner was not necessitous for an effective investigation.

Hence, the present application was allowed with certain conditions. [Shanil v. State of Kerala, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 2625 , decided on 06-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: P.B. Suresh Kumar, J., addressed a matter in which a 59 year old man was accused of raping a minor girl and the issue that has been dealt primarily in the matter is with regard to consent in the context of rape.

Conviction and Sentence of the appellant were challenged in the present appeal.

What is the accusation?

Accused had committed rape on a minor girl aged 14 years belonging to Scheduled Caste and impregnated her on various days.

Offences alleged were punishable under Section 376 of Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 3(1)(xii) and 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Decision of the lower Court

Court below on perusal of the record found that the accused had sexual intercourse with the victim girl and impregnated her.

Although the Court found that the prosecution did not prove the age of the victim girl and failed to establish that the case is one that falls under the sixth description in the definition of ‘rape’ in terms of Section 375 of the IPC as it stood then, it held that in the absence of any case for the accused that the sexual intercourse he had with the victim girl was consensual, the accused is guilty of the offence punishable under Section 376 of the IPC.

Point formulated for decision

Whether the prosecution established that the sexual intercourse between the victim girl and accused was without her consent?

Court noted that the present case was decided prior to the introduction of Section 114A of the Evidence Act.

Victim Girl’s deposition

While she was watching television, the accused sent his granddaughter away to a shop, closed the door of the house, pulled her to the adjacent room, made her lie down in a cot, removed her clothes and inserted his genital organ into her vagina after removing his clothes.

Understanding the concept of consent in the context of rape

Mere act of helpless resignation in the face of inevitable compulsion, quiescence, non- resistance, or passive giving in, when volitional faculty is either clouded by fear or vitiated by duress, cannot be deemed to be ‘consent’ as understood in law and the consent, on the part of a woman as a defence to an allegation of rape, requires voluntary participation, not only after the exercise of intelligence, based on the knowledge, of the significance and moral quality of the act, but after having freely exercised a choice between resistance and assent.

Sexual assaults including rape are crimes of gender inequality.

Court added to its conclusion that, in a country like ours committed to gender equality, only sexual intercourse which are welcomed could be construed as not violative of the rights of the victim, and accepted as consensual.

Accused was a fatherly figure to the victim girl, leaving apart the age factor there is was doubt with the class in which she was studying during the relevant period. She used to go the accused’s place for watching television and taking advantage of the situation accused had made sexual advances to her.

Accused’s case was only that the admitted conduct of the victim girl in going to the house of the accused as when desired by him subsequently would indicate that the latter instances of sexual intercourse were consensual.

Thus, Court in view of the above concluded that in a situation as was in the present matter, conduct on the part of the victim girl in surrendering before the accused as and when desired by him cannot be said to be unusual or abnormal and such surrender can never be construed as consensual acts of sexual intercourse. [Thankappan P.K. v. State of Kerala, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 2587 , decided on 29-06-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: Krishna S. Dixit, J., granted anticipatory bail to the petitioner accused of committing sexual offence.

Petitioner was accused for the offences under Sections 376, 420 and 506 of Penal Code, 1860 and Section 66-B of Information Technology Act, 2000 and by the present petition seeks bail.

State while opposing the petition submitted that the offences alleged against the petitioner are serious in nature and it would be unsafe for the society if offenders like petitioner is granted bail.

Thus in view of the above Judge of the lower Court had rejected his claim.

Bench on perusal of the petition papers and on consideration of the contentions submitted by the counsels granted anticipatory bail for the following reasons:

  • seriousness alone is not the criteria to deny liberty to the citizen when there is no prima facie case from the side of the State Police;
  • version of the complainant that she was subjected to rape on the false promise of marriage in the given circumstances of the case, is bit difficult to believe at this stage; there is a letter allegedly written by the complainant to the effect that she was ready to withdraw the complaint if a compromise is brought about, especially when the complainant had employed the services of the petitioner since last two years or so; nothing is stated by the complainant as to why she did not approach the Court at the earliest point of time when the petitioner was allegedly forcing her for sexual favours;
  • nothing is mentioned by the complainant as to why she went to her office at night ie., 11.00 p.m.; she has also not objected to consuming drinks with the petitioner and allowing him to stay with her till morning; the explanation offered by the complainant that after the perpetration of the act she was tired and fell asleep, is unbecoming of an Indian woman; that is not the way our women react when they are ravished;
  • version of the complainant that she had been to Indraprastha Hotel for dinner and that the petitioner having consumed drinks came and sat in the car, even if is assumed to be true, there is no explanation offered for not alerting the police or the public about the conduct of the petitioner

Thus in view of the above, petitioner was granted bail. [Sri Rakesh v. State of Karnataka, Criminal Petition No. 2427 of 2020, decided on 22-06-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Sikkim High Court: A Division Bench of Meenakshi Madan Rai and Bhaskar Raj Pradhan, JJ. partly allowed the present appeal wherein a teacher sexually assaulted his minor students.

Appellant was tried, convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for offences of rape, aggravated penetrative sexual assault and for assault on the minor victim a schoolgirl with intent to outrage her modesty.

Judgment of conviction and sentence order have been challenged in the present appeal.

During the investigation, minor victim was examined and it was found that her breast nipples were swollen and her hymen was not intact and it admitted one finger coupled with tenderness and foul smell. Thus, Dr Rozeela Bhutia opined in her medical report that there was clinical evidence of sexual assault.

Minor victim identified the appellant as Kendrap Sir who used to teach them Mathematics and Hindi when she was in the 4th and 5th standards. She deposed that on two occasions, the appellant put his finger in her pisab garne (vagina). She deposed that on five occasions he put his hands on her chest/breasts in the classroom of the school. She also deposed about the appellant sexually abusing other schoolgirls.

Bench observed that,

It may be possible to get confused at such a tender age about which act was committed on which schoolgirl but near impossible for a schoolgirl to forget how she was sexually abused that too by her own teacher.

Section 375(b) IPC provides that insertion of a finger (a part of the body) into the vagina amounts to rape.

Court stated that it is inclined to uphold appellant’s conviction under Section 376(2)(f)(i) and (n) of the Penal Code, 1860.

Thus in view of the above terms, sentences under Sections 9(f), 9(l) and 9(m) of the POCSO Act are upheld.

In terms of Section 42 of the POCSO Act, the appellant is not liable to be punished for the offences under Sections 5(f), 5(l) and 5(m) of the POCSO Act. Accordingly, the appellant’s sentences under Section 5 of the POCSO Act are set aside.

Keeping in mind all the relevant considerations including the age of the appellant, Court held that sentence of 10 years and fine of Rs 50,000 for the above offences would be sufficient for the ends of justice. Appellant has been sentenced to 7 years of simple imprisonment and a fine of Rs 40,000 each for the offences under Sections 9(f), 9(l) and 9(m) of the POCSO Act.

Thus the appeal is partly allowed. [Kendrap Lepcha v. State of Sikkim, 2020 SCC OnLine Sikk 40 , decided on 01-06-2020]