Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Observing that the trial court, in the present case, did not seem to be alive to realities, Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. quashed an order whereby the accused-respondent (father of the prosecutrix) was discharged of the offence punishable under Sections 354 (outraging modesty of a woman) and 376(2)(f) (punishment for rape committed by a relative, guardian, teacher or person in position of trust or authority of a woman) IPC.

The trial court discharged the accused as he was blind and the allegations made against him were not specific. Also, the prosecutrix did not raise alarm when she had opportunities and did not file any complaint all this while. It is pertinent to note that the parents of the prosecutrix were divorced and as per the prosecutrix, she did not even remember as to when sexual assaults started to be committed upon her by her father. In the present complaint, she mentioned about incidents which happened when she was the age of 6 years old upto the age of 13-14 years old. She was 18 years old at the time of filing of the complaint. She mentioned that it was only when she was taught sex-education in her hostel, that she came to realise that she was being sexually assaulted. She then talked about it to her friend, who advised her about her options and thereafter they got in touch with an NGO.

The High Court noted that the prosecutrix had given a detailed description of the manner in which she was assaulted by the accused. It was observed: “A child who is subjected to sexual abuse and assault from a tender age of 6 and which assault continues till she is 14 years of age, would not even be aware that she is being abused or any offence is happening. The prosecutrix in her statement has stated that she was not aware of the abuse and became aware only when she grew up.”

Commenting on the flawed approach of the trial court, it was stated: “Trial court has erred in not appreciating that the accused is the father of the prosecutrix and was in a dominating position and keeping in the view the relationship, it would not be abnormal for the prosecutrix not to make a complaint against her own father. The reasoning given by the Trial Court is completely perverse and contrary to record.”

Satisfied that the allegations raised gave suspicion against the accused of having committed the alleged offence, the High Court allowed the present petition of the State which was filed after elucidating opinions from the Additional Public Prosecutor, the Chief Prosecutor, the Director of Prosecution, the Principal Secretary (Law and Justice) and also the Law Minister. The matter was remitted to the trial court for framing of appropriate charges against the appellant. [State (NCT of Delhi) v. X, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 7913, decided on 02-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

“This is my time to sing, dance and play. This is my time to be happy. This is my time. Give it back to me.”

Sikkim High Court: The above-quoted word of Bhaskar Raj Pradhan, J., set the undertone of this judgment delivered by him. The facts of the present case disturbed the judicial mind of the Court and persuaded it to direct the Registrar General to place the judgment and record of the case before the Chief Justice to consider taking up the issue on the judicial side.

The appellant had filed an appeal against the Judgment of the trial court whereby he was convicted for commission of an aggravated sexual assault on a hapless 7-year old minor child. The appellant was the victim’s uncle. Having found the case sufficiently proved beyond reasonable doubt by the evidence of the minor victim along with her two minor siblings, the High Court upheld his conviction.

What appeared from the facts of the case was that the mother of the children had left the home. The uncle who was called in to take care of them had been convicted for sexual assault. Not only this, their father too had been convicted for commission of an aggravated sexual assault on the minor victim. The children were staying in different NGOs. After noting that the Special Judge had directed the payment of Rs 1 lakh as compensation under Sikkim Compensation to Victims or his Dependents Scheme, 2011, the Court noted several disturbing questions that remained unanswered: “It is quite obvious that the minor victim and her two minor siblings are all lodged in different homes run by NGO’s. No relatives seem to have come forward to take care of them. The father stands convicted. The mother is nowhere around the children when they need her the most. How long do these children remain in such homes? Are these homes best equipped to take care of the “best interest” of these children? Do these children have any choice of a better alternative? What is the role and responsibility of the State towards these children – all victims of crime who have been subjected to such cruelty?”

“Is enough being done? How do we better this unhappy situation?” This was the thought which disturbed the judicial mind and persuaded Justice Bhaskar Raj Pradhan to pass the aforestated directions. [Krishna Bahadur Chettri v. State of Sikkim, 2019 SCC OnLine Sikk 22, dated 01-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Bench of Ahsanuddin Amanullah, J. hearing an application under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, quashed the cognizance taken against the petitioner holding that the subject dispute was purely a civil dispute.

Chairman of an NGO named Bharat Bharati (Educational) Service Institution, instituted a complaint case against the petitioner (Managing Director of the said NGO) alleging non-disbursal of funds received by him from the central government in lieu of certain jobs done by the NGO for the forest department of the State. Cognizance of the said case was taken under Sections 406, 420, 467 and 120(B) of the Penal Code, 1860. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner moved this Court under Section 482 of CrPC praying for quashing of the learned Magistrate’s order.

The Court observed that a purely civil dispute with regard to the distribution of money among the office bearers of the concerned NGO could not be said to be in the nature of any criminal offence as it was a pure and simple money dispute among the office bearers of the said NGO.

It was opined that where a person is aggrieved by non-payment of money, the only remedy available is under common civil law by way of filing a money suit. Reliance, in this regard, was placed on the judgment in Indian Oil Corpn. v. NEPC India Ltd, (2006) 6 SCC 736 where the practice of settling civil disputes by applying pressure through criminal prosecution was deprecated.

In view of the above, it was held that the institution of complaint case against the petitioner was the abuse of process of the court, and petitioner’s application was allowed.[Rameshwar Prasad Sinha v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 48, Order dated 15-01-2019]