Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench of Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, JJ., dismissed a criminal leave petition filed by the State against the order of the trial court whereby the respondent, who was accused of raping the prosecutrix-victim, was acquitted.

The respondent was charged under Sections 363, 366 and 376 IPC along with Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, for the aforementioned offence. The father of the prosecutrix had filed a report with the police that her daughter was missing. Subsequently, the prosecutrix made a phone call to her friend after which she was recovered. She disclosed that the accused had committed wrong acts with her and abandoned her. The accused stood trial under charges as mentioned above. The trial court was of the view that the prosecutrix was not a credible witness and, accordingly, acquitted the accused. Aggrieved thereby, the State filed the present petition.

Aashaa Tiwari, APP appearing for the State, contended that the prosecutrix had “by and large” supported the case of the prosecution and had specifically named the respondent-accused in her statements.

The High Court noted that the prosecutrix was the most material witness in the case; however, her testimony did not inspire confidence as it was in direct conflict with the case put forth by the prosecution. The Court found that, firstly, the place of incident, i.e.,“Hotel Shalimar” as told by the prosecutrix was not found to be in existence. Secondly, the prosecutrix had categorically denied staying at the “Sharda Hotel” contrary to the prosecution’s case and evidence on record. Thirdly, the manner in which prosecutrix stated to have been recovered was contrary to the prosecution’s case. Also, no independent witness was examined by the prosecution to corroborate the story of the prosecutrix. Consequently, the Court held that in the absence of any evidence corroborating the testimony of the prosecutrix, the same could not be relied upon to convict the respondent-accused as it was full of contradictions.

In such view of the matter the Court held that despite the medical evidence confirming that the hymen of the prosecutrix had been freshly torn, there was no evidence to link the respondent-accused with the incident. Accordingly, the High Court upheld the order of the trial court acquitting the respondent. [State v. Rehan, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 172, decided on 21-01-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Division Bench of Sangita Dhingra Sehgal and Siddharth Mridul, JJ. dismissed a petition against trial court’s order acquitting the accused of offences punishable under Sections 363, 366, 376 and 506 IPC along with Section 5(1) and 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

The accused was alleged to have forcefully made sexual relation with the prosecutrix. An FIR was filed under the above-said sections and the matter was committed to trial. After appreciating the entire evidence, the trial court acquitted the accused.

Ravi Nayak, Additional Public Prosecutor for the State assailed the order arguing that it was based on conjectures and surmises. Per contra, Rajeev Mohan, Advocate for accused supported the impugned order.

After perusing testimony of the prosecutrix in detail along with other evidence, the High Court found that it was full of inconsistencies, concealment, improvements and exaggerations which cast a shadow of doubt on the prosecution case. Furthermore, the case was not at all supported by the medical evidence and FSL report. It was held that the prosecution failed to establish the charges against the accused. Reliance was placed on  Muralidhar v. State of Karnataka, (2014) 5 SCC 730 for the proposition that the Appellate Court may interfere in order of acquittal only when there are compelling reasons to do so. However, the present was not one of such cases. Therefore, the appeal filed by the State was dismissed. [State (NCT of Delhi) v. Manish, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 13291, Order dated 07-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Rajendra Kumar Srivastava and S.K. Gangele, JJ. allowed the appeal and acquitted the appellant who was convicted under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC.

The appellant was convicted for the murder of the deceased and awarded life sentence. It was alleged by the PWs 2 and 3, the brother and mother of the deceased, that the appellant had a farsa with which the deceased was attacked and he, therefore, died on the spot. The order of conviction and sentence passed by the trial court was challenged in the instant appeal.

The High Court noted that the eye-witnesses had deposed that the appellant was armed with a farsa and had inflicted injuries upon the deceased. However, in the postmortem report, there were no signs of any such injury that could have been caused by a sharp weapon. The doctor, who conducted the postmortem also deposed that he did not notice any such injury. Relying on Mahavir Singh v. State of M.P., (2016) 10 SCC 220, the Court held that where the medical evidence goes so far that it completely rules out the possibility of the ocular evidence being true, then such ocular evidence may be disbelieved. Holding thus, the conviction and sentence of the appellant under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC was set aside. The appeal was thus, allowed. [Shiv Prasad Kol v. State of M.P., 2018 SCC OnLine MP 414, dated 05-07-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Stating the importance of medical evidence, especially in a murder trial, the Bench of P.C. Ghose and R.F. Nariman, JJ said that where the medical evidence is such that it does not give any clear opinion with respect to the injuries inflicted on the body of victim or deceased, as the case may be, the possibilities that the injuries might have been caused by the accused are also ruled out. Such medical evidence is also very important in assessing the testimony of eye-witnesses and in determining whether the testimony of eye-witnesses can be safely accepted.

In the present case, the accused had killed his close relative in a field allegedly over a land dispute, the High Court of Bombay had acquitted the accused as the prosecution had failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Upholding the decision of the High Court, the Court said that apart from contradictory testimonies of the witnesses, non-examination of the material witness on whose field the crime was committed, unexplained 6 days delay in lodging FIR; no opinion given by doctor in the post-mortem report or his deposition about the cause of death raise substantial doubt in the prosecution story. The Court said that the unfortunate man succumbed to injuries but the substantial doubts, mentioned above, confer a right upon the accused-respondents to be held not guilty.

Emphasising upon the importance of expert opinion, the Court said that expert’s opinion should be demonstrative and should be supported by convincing reasons. Court cannot be expected to surrender its own judgment and delegate its authority to a third person, however great. If the report of an expert is slipshod, inadequate or cryptic and information on similarities or dissimilarities is not available in the report of an expert then his opinion is of no value. Such opinions are often of no use to the court and often lead to the breaking of very important links of prosecution evidence which are led for the purpose of prosecution. [Machindra v. Sajjan Galpha Rankhamb, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 443, decided on 19.04.2017]