Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: When the UP law student who went missing was brought before the bench of R Banumathi and AS Bopanna, JJ after being found in Rajasthan, she told the Court that she wants to stay in Delhi and not return to her home. She was brought to the court after two judges said they wanted to speak to her. A BJP leader and former Union Minister, Chinmayanand, had been accused by the young woman’s parents of kidnapping her.

Justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna spoke with the woman in closed court before continuing the hearing. Later, the judges announced that the woman was to be kept wherever she felt safe and comfortable. The Delhi Police has been asked to bring her parents to the capital. The Court said,

“She left her place with college friends for her protection. She doesn’t want to go back to UP till she meets her parents. She stated that she will decide her future course of plan after meeting them,”

Earlier, asking the UP government to give the information “within five minutes”, the Supreme Court had said,

“Find out her exact location now. How much time will she take to be present in court.”

Replying to the Court, the state government said the “exact location” of the woman was near Fatehpur Sikri and it would take her two and a half hours to reach Delhi.

The Supreme Court decided on Thursday to take up the case on its own after a group of lawyers raised concerns that it could turn into the another “Unnao” – the case involving Kuldeep Singh Sengar, an MLA expelled only recently from the BJP amid outrage, he is accused of raping a minor girl from his village in 2017 and then trying to murder her in a car crash. Fearing for the woman’s safety, the lawyer said,

“Only the police are making the statement but she has not been seen on TV,”

Chinmayananda’s lawyer called the allegations against him a “conspiracy”.

The woman, a law student, went missing on Saturday after posting a video on Facebook alleging that a “big leader of the Sant Samaj” had “destroyed the lives of many other girls and also has threatened to kill me”. She requested Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help her. Based on her video, which went viral, her father blamed Chinmayanand, a former union minister who heads the management of the college where the woman studies.

The police filed the family’s case only on Tuesday, three days after she went missing, and charged Chinmayanand with kidnapping and criminal intimidation.

(Source: NDTV)

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Division Bench of Sandeep Mehta and Abhay Chaturvedi, JJ. contemplated an appeal where the appellant had been convicted and sentenced under Sections 363 and 376 of Penal Code, 1860 and Section 3(2)(v) of SC/ST Act i.e. commission of any offence under the IPC punishable with imprisonment for a term of ten years or more against a person or property [knowing that such person is a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or such property belongs to such member], shall be punishable with imprisonment for life and with fine.

Minimal facts relevant for proper appreciation of the case are that one Asha Bhai lodged an FIR against the appellant for alleged rape and kidnapping of the minor granddaughter of the complainant. Complainant, victim and the appellant were travelling to Ahmedabad when the appellant alleged drugged Asha and when he regained her consciousness there was no trace of the minor victim and the appellant. Subsequently, an investigation was conducted and charge-sheet was filed. Appellant was charged under various Sections of IPC and under Section 3(1) (xii) of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. As the charge under SC\ST Act was added the case was duly transferred to the Special Judge for trial. After the trial, the Judge convicted the appellant, hence the instant appeal was preferred.

The counsel for the appellant, Pradeep Shah, submitted that judgment passed by the trial court was bad in the eyes of law. He urged that there was no allegation of any of the prosecution witnesses that the accused kidnapped or subjected the victim to rape with the intention of committing offence on a member of the Scheduled Caste community. He further argued that the conviction of the accused of the offence under Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Act was prima facie illegal. It was further submitted that the victim was not a minor and there was no proper evidence to prove otherwise. It was contended that the alleged victim resided with her own will and never protested hence the physical relation was consensual and no case of rape was to be made.

Learned Public Prosecutor, N.S. Bhati vehemently and fervently opposed the submissions advanced by the appellant. He urged that the victim had given cogent testimony at the trial stating that she was a minor on the date of the incident. The accused lured her away on the premise that he would get her father released from prison. Entertaining this bonafide belief, she accompanied the accused and her grandfather for going to Ahmedabad. The accused gave a slip to her grandfather and forced her to board a train. She was taken to Mahsana where she was kept in a house which is at an isolated place. There, the accused repeatedly subjected her to sexual intercourse. It was further submitted that the medical report pointed towards the alleged rape and the age of the minor was also confirmed accordingly.

The Court, gave thoughtful consideration to the arguments of the parties and observed that “Prima facie, from the evidence available on record, it is duly established and we are fully satisfied that the accused committed the offence under Sections 363 & 376 IPC not because he wanted to sexually assault a member of the scheduled caste community but these offences were perpetrated by the accused in order to satisfy his carnal desires.”

The Court further relied on the judgment in, Masumsha Hasanasha Musalman v. State of Maharashtra, (2000) 3 SCC 557, where the Supreme Court in a similar case opined that, the case was not designated against the SC/ST community specifically. Hence the Court opined that the finding recorded by the trial court whereby the accused was held liable for the offence under Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Act and was sentenced to life imprisonment on this count is ex-facie illegal and contrary to record. Hence, the Court set aside the impugned judgment to that extent. Further, it observed that the remaining Judgment of the trial court was legal. Thus the appeal was allowed partly.[Kesa Bhai v. State of Rajasthan, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 1403, decided on 02-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Mukta Gupta, J. dismissed an appeal filed by the appellant against the judgment of the trial court whereby he was convicted for offences punishable under Sections 367 (kidnapping or abducting in order to subject person to grievous hurt, slavery, etc.) and 393 (attempt to robbery) IPC.

The appellant was of the accused persons who tried to rob the complainant of his motorcycle and other belongings. The appellant was however apprehended on the spot. He was tried and convicted as aforesaid.

Naomi Chandra, Advocate for the appellant contended that the recovery of gun from the appellant was highly doubtful. His associate put a gun on him and ran away. Furthermore, nothing was found in personal search of the appellant. Per contra, Ashok Kumar Garg, APP submitted that the impugned judgment suffered from no illegality.

Considering the evidence, the High Court found that it was proved that the appellant was arrested at the spot. It was observed: “The complainant in his statement does not say that the appellant was the one who showed him the pistol, however, the fact that the appellant sat on the motorcycle of the complainant and made him take the motorcycle to Loni which the complainant avoided smartly by reaching a place where PCR van was parked is sufficient to uphold the conviction of the appellant for the offence punishable under Sections 367 and 393 IPC.”

At the same time, since the appellant did not show the gun or open fire, despite the fact that he had weapon of offence in his hand, it was held that he was rightly acquitted of the offences punishable under Sections 186, 353 and 307 IPC.

In such view of the matter, the Court found no reason to interfere with the judgment of the trial court. Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed. [Sher Mohd. v. State (NCT of Delhi), Crl. A. No. 1175 of 2017, decided on 20-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Meghalaya High Court: A Bench of Mohammad Yaqoob Mir, C.J. and H.S. Thangkhiew, J. set aside the conviction and sentence inflicted upon the appellant for an offence of “kidnapping abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage, etc.”, punishable under Section 366 IPC.

As per the prosecution, on the day of the incident, the prosecutrix boarded the appellant’s auto rickshaw for her home. It was alleged that the appellant deliberately avoided to stop the autorickshaw at the destination (home of the prosecutrix). This prompted the prosecutrix to jump out of the autorickshaw, as a result whereof she was injured and became unconscious. The appellant was booked for an offence under Section 366  and was convicted by the trial court. Aggrieved thereby, he filed the present appeal.

The High Court noted that the star witness — the prosecutrix —  did not support the prosecution case of kidnapping. As per the Court, the case was registered on the basis of imaginationIt was further noted that the appellant did not know the home of the prosecutrix or the point where he had to stop and as stated by him, there was noise of trucks and maybe due to that, he was unable to hear the voice of prosecutrix. Referring to the ingredients under Section 366, it was observed: “There is not an iota of evidence to suggest that the prosecutrix was in any manner compelled to marry or likely to be compelled to intercourse so as to constitute offence punishable under Section 366 intention directly or indirectly shall be gatherable from the evidence.”

Furthermore, an important question is whether the accused knew where the house of the prosecutrix was situated nor it is stated in any manner that she had asked the driver to stop and he refused. It is nowhere emerging from the evidence that the auto rickshaw driver while driving the auto rickshaw … had deviated from the main road..”

Holding that the prosecutrix got apprehensive of her own and there was nothing on part of the appellant which could constitute offence under Section 366 IPC, the Court observed: “Learned trial court appears to have been swayed by the rise of cases of sexual harassment against women and minor children …Any offence against women and minor children is totally unacceptable but in the name of the same, an innocent person cannot be convicted or sentenced. Any person who dares or tries to commit such offence cannot be shown any leniency but at the same time without any basis, a person cannot be convicted and sentenced.”

In such view of the matter, the appeal was allowed and set at liberty. [Jerman Syngkli v. State of Meghalaya, Crl. A. No. 1 of 2019, Order dated 01-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: R.K. Gauba, J., gave benefit of doubt to the appellant in the present appeal who was convicted by the trial court for the offences punishable under Sections 363 (punishment for kidnapping) and 368 (wrongfully concealing or keeping in confinement, kidnapped or abducted person) read with Section 34 IPC.

It was alleged that the appellant gave intoxicated sweets to the prosecutrix (victim) after which she started to feel giddy and thereby helped the co-convict in kidnapping the prosecutrix. She was tried and convicted by the trial court as aforestated. Represented by G.P. Thareja and Mani Mishra, Advocates, the appellant filed the present appeal.

The High Court noted that the prosecutrix changed her statement regarding the involvement of the appellant at least twice. It was stated: “The prosecutrix had changed her stand from one version to the other, the narration of sequence of evidence in the first statement under Section 161 CrPC being materially distinct from what was deposed by her before the Magistrate at the time of her statement under Section 164 CrPC, the Court deposition being even further at variance from the previous two.”

Observing that “The Court deposition of the prosecutrix against the appellant several days after she had been recovered cannot be believed on its face value”, the Court gave benefit of doubt to the appellant and acquitted her. The appeal was thus allowed. [Arti v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 7823, decided on 12-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Manipur High Court: A writ petition filed against the order of detention passed by the District Magistrate was allowed by the Division Bench comprising of N. Kotiswar Singh, ACJ and Kh. Nobin Singh. J.

The petition was filed against the detention order passed against appellant who was a member of Kuki National Front- President (KNF-P). The petitioner along with others, was charged for kidnapping and killing of members of another organisation. Detention Orders were passed against the appellants in furtherance of the said charges. The petitioner challenged the Detention Order contending that the provisions of Section 10 of the National Security Act, 1980 were not complied with.

The High Court perused the record as well as Section 10 of the National Security Act and found that the provisions and requirements of the said section need to be strictly complied with. Section 10 provides that the Government shall place the grounds of detention along with the representation presented by the detenu, if any, before the Advisory Board, within three weeks from the date of detention. However, in the present case, the Court found that the said provision was not complied with within three weeks of the date of detention of the petitioner. The Court held that violation of the provisions of Section 10 has prejudiced the right of the petitioner. Hence, the order of detention was liable to be quashed which was ordered accordingly. [Lalkhosem Kipgen v. District Magistrate, 2018 SCC OnLine Mani 38, dated 07-05-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Jharkhand: The Division Bench comprising of H.C. Mishra and B.B. Mangalmurti, JJ., recently heard an appeal against the acquittal of the respondent who had been accused under Sections 364 and 34 of the Penal Code.

The appellant’s son had been taken forcibly by the respondents owing to certain prevailing land disputes between the two parties. The appellants had alleged that the respondents had broken into their house by breaking through the thatched roof and kidnapped the son which after examining the evidence on record, was found to be untrue by the Trial Court and hence, the accused was acquitted of the charges framed against him.

The Court observed that the victim himself had testified that he had been forcibly taken away from his house for 20-21 days and eventually brought near the Deoghar Court and left by the accused. It noted that Section 364 of the Penal code mandates the intention of murdering the victim or putting him in the danger of being murdered, for the offence to be labeled as kidnapping under the impugned section. Since, the evidence showed that the victim had been left near the Deoghar Court after a few days, it was obvious that no intention to kill had been present in the minds of the accused and hence, offence under Section 364 Penal Code, couldn’t be made out. Thus, the appeal was dismissed. [Kamruddin Sheikh v. State of Jharkhand, 2018 SCC OnLine Jhar 123, order dated 26.2.2018]