Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah*, JJ refused to interfere with the conviction of a man for sexually assaulting a mentally deficient woman.

“A person suffering from mental disorder or mental sickness deserves special care, love and affection. They are not to be exploited. In the present case, the accused has exploited the victim by taking disadvantage of her mental sickness/illness. Therefore, no interference of this Court against the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court convicting the accused is called for.”

Brief Background

In 2008, the 19-year-old prosecutrix, was sexually assaulted by the accused in the jugle where they both used to go to graze cattle. The accused threatened the prosecutrix not to disclose the incident to anyone and due to fear and due to forgetting the same and further due to mental weakness, she did not disclose about the incident to anyone including her mother. When she was medically examined, it was found that she was 31 weeks pregnant. After she gave birth to a female child, blood samples of the prosecutrix, the baby and the accused were taken for DNA test.  As per report, accused was the biological father of the female child.

The trial Court acquitted the accused mainly on the ground of delay in lodging the FIR and also on the ground that the prosecutrix was not mentally unsound to understand the consequences and what was happening.

However, the Himachal Pradesh High Court sentenced the accused to undergo seven years R.I. with fine of Rs. 10,000/- and in default of payment of fine, further six months R.I. under Section 376 IPC and four years R.I. with fine   of Rs.5,000/- and in default of payment of fine, further three months R.I. under Section 506 IPC.

Analysis

On re-appreciation of evidence by the High Court

The Court held that in the facts and circumstances of the case the High Court is justified and, as such, has not committed any error in reversing the order of acquittal passed by the learned trial Court and convicting the accused for the offences under Sections 376 and 506 IPC. Being the first appellate Court, the High Court was justified in re-appreciating the entire evidence on record and the reasoning given by the learned trial Court.

On the mental condition of the prosecutrix

“Merely because the victim was in a position to do some household works cannot discard the medical evidence that the victim had mild mental retardation and she was not in a position to understand the good and bad aspect of sexual assault.”

Is language material for conducting IQ tests?

In   the   crossexamination, the Medical Expert specifically stated that the language is not material in the tests because these are independent of language. IQ of a person can be known on the basis of the questions, activities and the history of a patient. Therefore, even if there might be some contradictions with respect to language known by the victim, in that case also, it cannot be said to be the major contradictions to disbelieve the entire medical evidence on the mental status of the victim.

On the culpability of the accused

On evidence, it was established and proved that the victim was mentally retarded and her IQ was 62. Holding that the accused had taken disadvantage of the mental illness and low IQ of the victim, the Court noticed

“It is required to be appreciated coupled with the fact that the accused is found to be the biological father of the baby child delivered by the victim. Despite the above, in his 313 statement the case of the accused was of a total denial. It was never the case of the accused that it was a case of consent.”

Therefore, considering the evidence on record, the Court upheld the decision of the High Court wherein it was observed that case would fall under Section 375 IPC. Further, even as per clause fifthly of Section 375 IPC, “a man is said to commit rape”, if with her consent when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind, is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.

On reduction of sentence

It was contended on behalf of the accused that he has already undergone four years RI out of seven years RI awarded to him and is married and has two children and therefore a lenient view may be taken. The Court rejected this contention and said

“…as such the High Court has also taken a very lenient view by imposing the minimum sentence of seven years RI.  It is required to be noted that it is a case of sexual assault on a victim whose IQ was 62 and was mentally retarded and that accused has taken undue advantage of the mental sickness/illness of the victim.”

[Chamal Lal v. State of Himachal Pradesh, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1229 OF 2017, decided on 03.12.2020]


*Justice MR Shah has penned this judgment

For Appellant: Advocate Radhika Gautam, learned Advocate has appeared for

For State: Advocate Sarthak Ghonkrokta

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Vibhu Bakhru, J., observed that If an HIV positive person is aware of their condition and has unprotected sex, the person can be punished under Section 270 of Penal Code, 1860.

Appellant was convicted by the trial court under Sections 376/313/307 of Penal Code, 1860.

Appellant was found guilty of raping his stepdaughter and since the appellant was found to be infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV Positive) and was convicted for an offence punishable under Section 307 of IPC — attempt to murder.

Trial Court also observed that since the appellant was aware that his acts could result in transmitting the potentially lethal disease, he had knowingly committed an act, which if resulted in transmitting of HIV and consequently, the death of the victim from that disease, it would amount to murder.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Conviction for Rape — offence punishable under Section 376 of IPC

Whether there is any doubt that the appellant is guilty of committing an offence punishable under Section 376 IPC?

Considering that the prosecutrix gave varied statements at various points of time and had changed her stand on oath. The testimony of the prosecutrix could not be considered as wholly reliable and the trial court erred in proceeding on the said basis. However, Court also denied accepting that she was a wholly unreliable witness.

Further, in view of the above Court stated that it would be unsafe to rely on the testimony of the prosecutrix without any corroborative evidence and hence solely on her testimony, the appellant cannot be convicted.

Bench made another observation that,

in the instant case, there is unimpeachable corroborative evidence that the petitioner had raped the prosecutrix. The DNA Fingerprints of the Products of Conception and the DNA Fingerprints generated from the blood sample of the petitioner conclusively established that the appellant was the biological father of the abortus.

Repeatedly Raped

It is also material to note that the prosecutrix had in the first instance, when she was brought to the Community Care Centre, reported to the nurse that her stepfather had been repeatedly establishing physical relations with her and had been sexually abusing her in front of her siblings.

Even the medical report recorded:

“Repeated Rape by HIV positive stepfather after the death of mother suffering from HIV/AIDS in Jan 2011. Patient was overdue by one week in April 2011 when she was given an injection to get back her periods back. She bled with clots and pieces. UPT done showing pregnancy positive result.”

High Court concurred with the decision of the trial court that the evidence obtained in the present case clearly established beyond any reasonable doubt that the appellant had engaged in sexual intercourse with prosecutrix without her consent and had committed an offence punishable under Section 376 IPC.

Conviction for causing miscarriage – offence punishable under Section 313 IPC

Whether it is established that the appellant is guilty of committing an offence punishable under Section 313 of the IPC?

Trial Court had held that the appellant was guilty of causing miscarriage to the prosecutrix by administering her pills. It is relevant to note that though the prosecutrix was in Sneh Sadan when she was allegedly administered pills by the appellant and the same was allegedly informed to doctors immediately, no action was taken by any of the doctors in this regard.

Bench stated that there is no material to indicate as to what pills were administered to the prosecutrix. Although three medical doctors were examined, none of them mentioned that in their opinion the prosecutrix‘s miscarriage was induced by the said pills.

Hence, the Court stated that there was no description of the pills allegedly administered to the prosecutrix. There is nothing on record to remotely indicate as to what was the substance that was allegedly administered to the prosecutrix.

Court was of the view that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the appellant had committed the offence of causing the prosecutrix‘s miscarriage. Therefore, the appellant‘s conviction for committing an offence under Section 313 of the IPC could not be sustained.

Conviction for an attempt to murder – offence punishable under Section 307 IPC

Bench did not concur with the view that the appellant was guilty of an offence punishable under Section 307 IPC for several reasons.

Firstly, that the import of holding so would also mean that any sexual activity by a person infected by HIV is punishable under Section 307 of the IPC, notwithstanding that his or her partner has consented to such sexual activity. This is because the culpable act under Section 307 of the IPC does not cease to be one if the victim of such an act has also consented to the same.

Secondly, the trial court had drawn support for its conclusion by mentioning that several countries prosecute cases of transmission of HIV and non-disclosure of HIV status. However, the court had not examined the specific provisions or the rationale used in various jurisdictions for prosecuting non-disclosure of HIV positive status as general offences.

In cases of actual transmission where an HIV Negative person acquires the said disease as a result of engaging in any sexual activity with an HIV Positive partner, the offender is prosecuted for causing bodily harm.

In certain cases where an HIV Positive person fails to disclose his status and engages in any sexual activity, he/she may be prosecuted for sexual assault as in such cases, the consent of the other person to engage in sexual intercourse is vitiated and the sexual act can be construed as one without consent.

In cases of sexual assault or rape, it is widely accepted that the HIV Positive status of the offender is an aggravating factor to be considered while sentencing the offender.

Thirdly, on a plain reading of Section 307 of IPC, an offence under Section 307 IPC is not made out.

Section 307 of the IPC punishes any act which is done by a person with such intention or knowledge and under the circumstances that by that act cause death, the persons committing such act would be guilty of murder.

Bench observed that clearly, in the facts of the present case, the appellant had not raped the prosecutrix with an intention of causing her death.

According to the prosecution, the appellant was lonely after the death of his wife and he had sexually preyed on his stepdaughter (as allegedly disclosed by him in his disclosure statement).

It is relevant to note that one of the key ingredients of the second, third and fourth limb of Section 300 of the IPC is that the culpable act is so inherently dangerous as is likely to cause death; or is sufficient in the normal course of nature to cause death; or in all probability, it would cause death.

The assumption that penetrative sexual assault would in all probability lead to transmission of the disease, which in all probability would result in the death of a healthy partner is not established. In the facts of the present case, no evidence whatsoever was led to establish the probability of the prosecutrix being transmitted the said disease.

In the given circumstances, the decision of the Trial Court is largely based on surmises and impressions, without analysis of any scientific data to assume that sexual intercourse by an HIV positive patient would in all probability lead to the demise of his partner.

Fourthly, the appellant was medically examined and there is no evidence to indicate that he was a carrier of Herpes Simplex Virus. Thus, there is no evidence that the appellant would have transmitted the said disease to the prosecutrix.

Lastly, this Court is of the view that the Trial Court had erred in proceeding on the basis that provisions of Section 270 of the IPC would not be applicable.

In Supreme Court’s decision of Mr ‘X’ v. Hospital ‘Z’: (1998) 8 SCC 296, a case was considered where the respondent hospital had disclosed that the appellant was HIV positive to his fiancé. As a result of such disclosure, the appellant‘s marriage to his fiancé was called off. Appellant instituted an action to recover damages on the ground that the information regarding his HIV positive status was required to be kept secret under medical ethics and was disclosed illegally. The appellant pleaded that since the hospital had breached its duty to maintain confidentiality, they were liable to pay damages to the appellant.

“…the reasoning that unprotected sexual engagement by an HIV positive person, who is aware of the nature of his disease, can be termed as a negligent act, which he knows is likely to spread the infection of a disease that endangers life and is thus, liable to be punished under Section 270 of the IPC is persuasive and cannot be faulted.”

Court opined that even if the Trial Court was of the view that it would not be apposite to frame charges under Section 270 of the IPC, the same did not necessarily warrant that charges be framed under Section 307 of IPC.

In view of the above, the impugned judgment to the extent that it convicts the appellant for committing an offence punishable under Section 376 of the IPC was upheld.

Punishment for offences under Sections 313 and 307 of IPC was set aside. [Sabhajeet Maurya v. State (NCT of Delhi), Crl. A. 493 of 2013 & Crl. M. (Bail) 7547 of 2020, decided on 26-11-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of Sadhana S. Jadhav and N.J. Jamadar, JJ., pens down the decision in the instant matter with the thought that “protector turns predator”.

The order of the Special Judge, Greater Bombay has been challenged, hereunder the appellant has been convicted for the offences punishable under Sections 6 and 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO). Further, in view of Section 42 of the POCSO Act, no separate sentence was imposed upon the appellant for the offence punishable under Section 376 of Penal Code, 1860 despite being found guilty.

The victim was 11 years old at the time of the alleged occurrence. Victim had come to reside with the brother of the accused whose wife was a distant relative of the victim.

Victim apprised the Court about the circumstances in which she came to reside in the house of the brother of the accused and found herself with the accused since 23-10-2014. Victim further informed that during those 4 days, while the victim and the accused were at home, the accused undressed and asked her to undress as well.

Victim was exploited on 3-4 occasions and stated the details of the same. Further, she was also threatened that in case she discloses the said incidents, then the accused will bring 3-4 more people to exploit her and thereafter kill her.

A victim stands on higher pedestal than an injured witness.

Bench stated that it is well settled that the victim of a sexual assault is not an accomplice. Nor is it an immutable rule of law that the testimony of a survivor cannot be acted without corroboration in material particulars.

Reference to the Supreme Court decision in Mohd. Imran Khan v. State Government (NCT of Delhi), (2011) 10 SCC 192, wherein it was observed that:

“It is trite law that a woman, who is the victim of sexual assault, is not an accomplice to the crime but is a victim of another person’s lust. The prosecutrix stands at a higher pedestal than an injured witness as she suffers from emotional injury.”

“…If for some reason the court is hesitant to place implicit reliance on the testimony of the prosecutrix it may look for evidence which may lend assurance to her testimony short of corroboration required in the case of an accomplice. If the totality of the circumstances appearing on the record of the case disclose that the prosecutrix does not have a strong motive to falsely involve the person charged, the court should ordinarily have no hesitation in accepting her evidence.”

Further, the Court recorded that indeed there were no signs suggestive of the use of force and vaginal/anal intercourse, nor any external injuries were noticed on the person of the victim.

In view of the above background, Special Judge was persuaded to hold that there was no material to show that the victim was subjected to penovaginal intercourse by the accused. However, there was evidence to indicate that the accused committed penetrative sexual assault by way of digital penetration and sexual assault by touching and pressing breasts of the victim.

In the High Court’s opinion, the Special Judge’s approach was justifiable.

The evidence can not be appreciated bereft of the circumstances and context.

The hapless and unsuspecting victim found herself at the mercy of the accused, with nobody else in the house. Hence the victim’s claim that the accused threatened her with dire consequences and subjected her to sexual exploitation cannot be discarded.

Further adding to the observations, Bench stated that there was no material to indicate, nor an endevour was made to elicit in the cross-examination of the victim ‘M’, that the latter offered resistance. In the absence of forcible resistance, the absence of injury on the person of the victim is not sufficient to discredit the victim’s evidence.

Therefore Court found no infirmity in the impugned judgment and order of conviction for the offences punishable under Sections 6 and 10 of the POCSO Act and Section 376 of IPC.

A.P.P., P.P. Shinde submitted that no leniency should be given to the accused as he preyed a child of 11 years and left a permanent scar on the mind of the victim.

There can be no duality of opinion that the sexual assault cases are required to be dealt with sternly and the offenders deserve no leniency.

The evidence laid in the instant case undoubtedly justifies the finding of penetrative sexual assault within the meaning of clause (b) of Section 3 of the Pocso Act, 2012. The act also falls within the dragnet of clause (b) of Section 375 of the Penal Code which defines the offence of rape, as substituted by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

Therefore, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment of 10 years, which is the minimum prescribed by Section 6 of the POCSO Act, would meet the ends of justice.

Impugned Judgment of Conviction for the offences punishable under Sections 6 and 10 of POCSO Act, 2012 and Section 376 (2) of IPC stands confirmed.[Fazal Mehmud Jilani Dafedar v. State of Maharashtra, Criminal Appeal No. 845 of 2017, decided on 26-11-2020]


Advocates who appeared in the instant matter:

For Appellant: Sayed Shabana M. Ali

A.P.P. for the State: P.P. Shinde

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Vinay Joshi, J., altered the conviction for rape and penetrative sexual assault to an act of aggravated form of sexual assault punishable under Section 10 of the POCSO Act in light of touching the breast of the child.

Appellant aged 67 years was convicted under Sections 376 and 450 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 4 and 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO).

Accused was acquitted from the charge of committing offence punishable under Section 377 IPC.  Accused challenged the conviction in the instant appeal.

Informant was residing along with his family members, including his daughter/victim girl aged 8 years. Two sons of the informant had been to their school and the minor victim was alone at the house as she was ill. In the afternoon the informant returned to his house for lunch and found that the house was locked from within, therefore, he peeped from the window and saw that appellant by lifting frock of the victim was moving his hand on her neck, cheek and chest.

Later, the informant shouted to open the door and hurriedly left the place. Victim disclosed that the accused moved his hand on her body, kissed her as well as put his finger in his anal part.

In regard to the above reference, informant lodged a report against the said incident.

Special Judge framed charge under relevant provisions of IPC and POCSO Act further on the appreciation of evidence held that the prosecution succeeded in proving the offence punishable under Sections 376 and 450 IPC, Sections 4 and 6 of the POCSO Act.

The prosecution case, in short, is about rape and aggravated penetrative sexual assault by the accused on a minor victim aged 8 years.

Analysis and Decision

Bench stated that the act of accused of touching the breast of the victim with sexual intent amounts to an aggravated form of sexual assault, which is punishable under Section 10 of the POCSO Act.

Since the medical evidence nowhere supported that there was insertion or penetration of finger into the anal region, it is doubtful whether the accused penetrated his finger into the anal region of the victim.

If two view emerges from the situation, the view favourable to the accused would take precedence. On mere assumption or possibility, the accused cannot be convicted.

 All the sexual assaults on children below 12 years amount to an aggravated form of sexual assault.

With regard to the age of the accused, which is near about 70 years, the imprisonment of 5 years would meet the ends of justice. From the set of circumstances laid down, it is clear that the house-trespass was merely in order to commit an offence punishable with imprisonment, which is punishable under Section 451 of the Penal Code, 1860.

In view of the above, criminal appeal as partly allowed.

Conviction under Section 376 of IPC and Sections 4 and 6 of the POCSO Act, is hereby quashed and set aside, instead the accused was convicted for the offence punishable under Section 10 of the POCSO Act and.

Further, instead of conviction under Section 450 IPC, the appellant is convicted for the offence punishable under Section 451 of the IPC.

Hence appellant will be entitled to set off under Section 428 of the CrPC. [Tukaram Ashruji Khandare v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 2802, decided on 22-10-2020]


Advocate for the appellant, R.V. Gahilot and H.R. Dhumale, A.P.P. for the respondent.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: In an application challenging the order of rejection of bail passed by Additional Sessions Judge, Ashwani Kumar Singh, J., set it aside enlarging the appellant-accused on bail.

The instant application has been filed by the appellant under Section 101(5) of the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act) challenging the order dated 24-09-2019 passed in Child Case No. 6 of 219 by the Additional Sessions Judge, Buxar in connection with P.S. Case No. 21 of 2019 registered under Section 376 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO).

The factual background in the present matter is that serious allegations have been placed on the appellant for committing the act of rape on the victim aged 13. The FIR was registered on the basis of the written report submitted by the mother of the victim subsequent to which, the appellant was arrested and produced before the Special Judge (POCSO), Buxar. Further, the statement of the victim was recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

Contradictory to the FIR, the victim made no mention of rape in her statement and spoke of a meeting between the appellant and herself.

Later, a petition was filed by the appellant before the Special Judge, Buxar claiming the on the day of occurrence he was a juvenile. During this period of time, a bail application was filed which was adjourned to different dates. With the bail application still pending, the Special Judge (POCSO), Buxar sent the case to Juvenile Justice Board, Buxar for the examination of his claim of juvenility. The Board determined the appellant’s age and declared him a juvenile vide order dated 02-08-2018. Subsequently, the Board made an assessment of the physical and mental ability of the appellant under Section 15 of the JJ Act and found it fit to transfer the appellant’s case to Children’s Court and accordingly, transferred the entire case record to the court of Special Judge (POCSO), Buxar for the trial of the appellant as an adult.

Later on, the Special Judge (POCSO), Buxar vide order dated 24-09-2019 rejected the bail application of the appellant. Upon careful perusal of the impugned order dated 24-09-2019, this Court observed that the bail application has been rejected primarily due to the serious nature of the offence and the charge-sheet that has been filed against the appellant. The trial court has erred by overlooking the victim’s statement under Section 164 CrPC. Also, undue importance has been given to the inconclusive medical report which only raises the possibility of a sexual act with the victim. The manner in which the alleged crime was committed hasn’t been indicated anywhere. The report of the probation officer seems completely hypothetical and beyond any reasoning. The Court also relied on the judgment in the case of Lalu Kumar v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1697.

In view of the above, the Court found the impugned order unsustainable and set it aside. In addition to this, the appellant has been released on bail. The appeal has been allowed.

[X9 v. State of Bihar,  2020 SCC OnLine Pat 1665, decided on 15-10-2020]


*The name of the appellant-accused has been withheld as per the statutory provisions prescribed under Section 74 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.


Yashvardhan Shrivastav, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

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, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 917, 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 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

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

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., 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

Bombay High Court: Sandeep K. Shinde, J., granted bail to a person accused for alleged offence of committing rape repeatedly, which turned out to be consensual on perusal of statement by the victim to the medical officer.

Petition was filed with regard to enlargement on bail for the alleged offences punishable under Section 376(2)(n) of Penal Code, 1860 read with Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

Victim in the present case was 17 yeas and 8 months old at the time of the incident.

Bench on perusal of the final report found that victim had informed the medical officer that she has sexual contact for multiple times with the applicant voluntarily.

Further it appeared that till her pregnancy she did not disclose the incident of alleged sexual assault.

Victim alleged that applicant had promised to marry her and therefore she had succumbed to his desires. Court had made efforts to settle the marriage of victim with the applicant, but on interviewing her she flatly denied to marry the applicant.

Thus in the above stated circumstances, Court concluded that it would be unreasonable to hold that victim did not possess mental capacity to actively understand the nature and consequences of the act as to which she had consented.

“Her statement to Medical Officer also reinforces the fact that she was in love with the applicant and voluntarily submitted to the physical desires of the applicant.”

Hence, applicant is directed to be released on bail with certain conditions.[Manish R. Mishra v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 778 , decided on 13-07-2020]

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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Sandeep Sharma , J., allowed the bail petition stating that object of the bail is to secure the attendance of the accused in the trial and the proper test to be applied in the solution of the question whether bail should be granted or refused is whether it is probable that the party will appear to take his trial.

The present petition has been filed under Section 439 Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 for grant of regular bail. The facts of the case are that victim prosecutrix, aged 26 years old, were working in a company since 2017, and in 2018 met the bail petitioner and became good friends. In year 2019, she attended bail petitioners marriage where he expressed that he is not happy with the marriage and wants to marry her, attempts of which she rejected. The bail petitioner allegedly sexually assaulted her twice and impregnated after which when she asked him to get married he refused and advised her to terminate the pregnancy. Hence she filed an FIR against him wherein investigation is complete and the trial is pending.

Arvind Sharma, Additional Advocate General with Kunal Thakur, Deputy Advocate General argued that the crime is a grave one  and the bail petitioner does not deserve any leniency. They further argued that the medical report submitted clearly proves that the bail petitioner is the biological father of the foetus in the womb and hence is charged with Section 376 of Penal Code, 1860

Advocate Rakesh Kumar Doga is representing the petitioner side.

The Court relied on the judgment titled Dataram Singh v. State of U.P., (2018) 3 SCC 22 and Prasanta Kumar Sarkar v. Ashis Chaterjee, (2010) 14 SCC 496 and held that, a fundamental postulate of criminal jurisprudence is the presumption of innocence, meaning thereby that a person is believed to be innocent until found guilty and that the grant of bail is the general rule and putting a person in jail or in a prison or in a correction home is an exception.

In view of the above mentioned arguments and observations the bail was granted. [Ritesh v. State of Himachal Pradesh, 2020 SCC OnLine HP 585 , decided on 27-05-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of S.S. Shinde and V.G. Bisht, JJ. refused to quash the FIR and criminal proceedings against the petitioner, a rape accused, despite settlement between the petitioner and the victim.

The matter related to alleged sexual assault and exploitation of the victim by the petitioner. The victim was a TV actress working in Delhi who was lured by the petitioner, a restaurant owner from Mumbai. It was alleged that the petitioner made promises of marriage to the victim and called her from Delhi to Mumbai. He also said he will get work for her. The petitioner arranged for the victim’s accommodation in Mumbai and it is alleged that on the pretext of marriage, the petitioner made physical relation with the victim against her will. It was also alleged that the victim got pregnant but had to undergo abortion despite resistance as the petitioner allegedly put a gun to her head and forced her to abort the pregnancy. Subsequently, the victim came to know that the petitioner is already married. After this, she filed an FIR against the petitioner and a criminal case was registered.

The petitioner also filed a cross complaint against the victim addressed to the Police Commissioner, Mumbai, in which the victim filed an affidavit in reply that as per advice of their elders, the petitioner and the victim have decided to amicably settle the dispute between them and move on in their careers.

Vishal Kanade and Satyaprakash Sharma instructed by  Shakuntala Sharma counsel for the petitioner, and Abhinav Chandrachud instructed by Prem Kumar R. Pandey, counsel for the victim jointly submitted that the FIR as also the chargesheet against the petitioner may be quashed. Per contra, S.D. Shinde, the Additional Public Prosecutor vehemently opposed the quashing of FIR on the ground that the alleged offences are serious and heinous offences.      

Relying on the Supreme Court decision in Gian Singh v. State of Punjab, (2012) 10 SCC 303 and State of M.P. v. Laxmi Narayan, (2019) 5 SCC 688, the High Court was of the opinion that the FIR and the chargesheet could not be quashed on the basis of alleged settlement and consent terms arrived at between the parties for the following reasons:

(i) The alleged offences are serious in nature and in particular, offence punishable under Section 376 of the IPC is heinous.

(ii) The petitioner told the victim that he was unmarried and wished to marry the victim, when in fact he was already married.

(iii) The petitioner sexually abused the victim by promising her that he will give her a job in the film industry.

(iv) There is serious allegation that the victim conceived from the petitioner, and he compelled the victim for abortion at the gunpoint.

The petitioner than advanced arguments on merits. He submitted that there was inordinate delay in lodging the FIR. Further, the victim was a consenting party and therefore the ingredients of Section 375 IPC were not attracted. On this point also, the Court declined to quash the FIR against the petitioner as it thought fit that the merits could not be dealt with in a summary manner and need to go to trial.

The Court observed that: “It prima facie appears that the consent given by the 2nd respondent [victim] for quashing the FIR and charge-sheet is not free from coercion, inasmuch as, it is stated in the said affidavit filed by the 2nd respondent that the petitioner’s wife also filed complaint against the 2nd respondent for the offence punishable under Section 452 IPC.”

It was further observed: “The alleged offences are not individual in nature and quashing of the impugned FIR, chargesheet and pending proceedings on the basis of alleged settlement or on merits is not possible since the alleged offences are not individual in nature and outcome of present proceedings will have impact on Society.”

As far as the issue of inordinate delay in lodging the FIR was concerned, the Court said that adjudication of issue of delay is a mixed question of fact and law and therefore that will have to be considered at the trial.

The petition to quash the FIR and the chargesheet was accordingly dismissed. [Chirag Sundarlal Gupta v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 627, decided on 13-3-2020]