Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Manoj Kumar Ohri, J., confirmed the conviction and sentence of the appellant, who was convicted by the trial court for the offence punishable under Section 6 (punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (“POCSO”) and Section 366-A (procuration of minor girl) of the Penal Code, 1860.

Crime and conviction

The appellant was a tenant in the house of the child-victim’s maternal grandmother (“nani”). The victim called the appellant “mama” (maternal uncle). As per the victim, one day when she was returning her home from her nani’s house, the appellant stopped her on the staircase and took her to his room where he inserted his hand in her private part. She tried to stop him and threw her “chappal” (slipper) at him. After which, she opened the lock of the room from inside and ran to her home where she narrated the entire incident to her mother. The mother of the victim took her to the police station where crime was registered.

The appellant was convicted by the trial court for under Section 6 of POCSO and Section 366-A IPC and sentenced to suffer 10 years RI and 5 years RI along with the imposition of fine respectively under the two provisions.

Appeal

Aggrieved by the decision of the trial court, the appellant preferred the present appeal where he submitted, among other things, that the child-victim’s testimony was doubtful as she had stated that the appellant inserted his hand in her private part, but on medical examination, no injury or swelling was noticed. It was also submitted that the appellant was falsely implicated due to certain monetary dispute between him and family of the victim. The State, on the other hand, opposed the present appeal.

The appellant was represented by Kanhaiya Singhal, Advocate; while Radhika Kolluru, APP, appeared for the State.

Analysis, law and decision

The High Court noted that as per the medical examination of the victim, there was no abrasion, swelling or bleeding in her private part.

At the outset, the Court referred to the Supreme Court decisions in Vijay v. State of M.P., (2010) 8 SCC 191 and Rajinder v. State of H.P., (2009) 16 SCC 69 to restate the settled law that that in a case of rape, the finding of guilt can be recorded even on the basis of uncorroborated testimony of the prosecutrix, provided it is cogent and reliable. Reliance was also placed on State of M.P. v. Ramesh, (2011) 4 SCC 786 and Ranjit Kumar Ram v. State of Bihar, (2015) SCC OnLine SC 500 for remembering that testimony of a child witness has to be evaluated more carefully as it is susceptible to tutoring.

In the present case, however, the Court found that the child was not tutored and her testimony stood the test of extra caution.

Regarding the absence of injury on the child-victim, the Court observed:

A perusal of the testimony of the child-victim would show that the present case is of ‘insertion’ and not of ‘penetration’. Although on local examination, the Doctor did not notice any abrasion/swelling/bleeding but absence of any injury on superficial examination does not lead to an inference that no offence took place. Even in a case of penetration, the consistent judicial diktat is that absence of injuries may not always be fatal to the prosecution case and the same would depend on the facts of each case.

On the contention of false implication, the Court noted that there were contradictions in the appellant’s own defence and thus there was no merit in such submission.

After careful consideration of the testimony of the child-victim, the Court was of the opinion that she had consistently stated about the incident in all of her statements. Her evidence was trustworthy, reliable and also admissible. The appellant failed to dislodge the statutory presumption under Sections 29 and 30 of the POCSO Act.

In such view of the matter, the Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decision of the trial court. [Ishwer Soni v. State (NCT of Delhi),  2020 SCC OnLine Del 1378, decided on 23-10-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

The National Human Rights Commission issued notice to the Chief Secretary, Director General of Police and the Director-General of Prisons, Madhya Pradesh after taking suo motu cognizance about the allegations made by women on five cops for gang rape in lockup.

It is mentioned in the news report that a 20-year-old woman has levelled allegations that she was kept in lock-up for 10 days in the month of May this year and was subjected to rape by 5 police personnel including the Police Station Incharge and SDPO of Mangawan area of Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh. The woman, as mentioned in the news report, was an accused in a case of murder and presently she is lodged in judicial custody. The incident occurred in the month of May and it came to the knowledge of the District Judge after a period of five months. Even the prison warden did not have the courage to report the matter to the higher authorities.

It is further added that as alleged by the victim woman, she was subjected to rape between 09-05-2020 to 21-05-2020 while the police contradict, to be arrested on 21-05-2020. The female constable had protested at that time but she was rebuked by her seniors.

The Commission considered the vulnerable position of the victim. She was in police custody when she was allegedly subjected to utmost cruelty and sexual assault by the 5 police personnel. Even a protest made by a female police official went in vain. Very serious allegations have been levelled by the victim woman. Public servants from the law enforcement agencies, who are supposed to safeguard the citizens especially the women and the people from the vulnerable classes of the society have allegedly committed the heinous crime against a woman in their custody.

The Commission directs that the matter may be investigated by a senior police officer, not below the rank of the Deputy Inspector General of Police.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 19-10-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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

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

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

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


Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Federal Court of Australia: Stewart, J. allowed an appeal filed by a Sri Lankan rape survivor who had applied for an Australian visa, holding that the Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA) erred in rejecting the applicant’s claim that social stigma arising from her sexual assault coupled with her Tamil ethnicity could likely amount to persecution if she were to be sent back.

The appellant is a Sri Lankan citizen of Tamil ethnicity, who lodged a combined application for Safe Haven Enterprise Visas (SHEVs) in 2017 along with her husband and son. Their applications were denied on the grounds that Australia did not owe them protection obligations, and this was affirmed by the IAA. The Federal Circuit Court dismissed the appellant’s application for judicial review of the Authority’s decision.

The appellant feared returning to Sri Lanka due to her Tamil ethnicity and her imputed pro-LTTE political opinion, and apprehended a continuing risk of rape and harassment by Sri Lankan security forces, which had been ongoing since the civil war ended in 2009. She claimed that she been raped while in Sri Lanka, but had “not been able to express this to anybody, not even [her husband].”

The IAA, however, was not convinced that her fear was well-founded, having given regard to “the improved security situation in Sri Lanka, the opportune nature of the sexual assault in 2010 and the protection the appellant would receive from her family,” stating that it was not satisfied that she would face a similar harm (of sexual assault) if she were to return. It went further to state that since the knowledge of the incident was limited to a very small pool of persons, there did not exist a real chance that she would face societal discrimination.

The Court disagreed with the earlier decisions, making a reference to “country information” cited by the IAA itself, which demonstrated that there was a factual basis to the realistic possibility that Tamil rape-survivors in Sri Lanka face discrimination and social stigma. It observed that by assuming that the appellant would not suffer from discrimination because she would be discrete about her rape, the IAA impermissibly divided Tamil sexual assault-survivors in Sri Lanka into two categories- one whose assault is public, and one whose is not. This shifted the focus away from the main question as to why she felt unable to tell “anyone,” causing the Authority to fail to enter upon the inquiry as to whether the social group suffers persecution as a consequence of social stigma. Since the IAA was operating under the presumption that the rape would not be disclosed, it failed to consider what would happen to the appellant if it did.

Stewart, J. acknowledged the increased vulnerability of sexual assault survivors to various adverse health effects as a result of prolonging disclosure of sexual assault, feelings of shame and experiencing negative social reactions. Holding that the appellant could be found to be a refugee and could fulfil the criteria under Section 36(2)(a) of the Migration Act, 1958 (Cth) wherein Australia has protection obligations with respect to a non-citizen refugee, it set aside the orders of the primary judge, allowed the application for judicial review of its decision and remitted the matter to the Authority for reconsideration. [CGW18 v Minister for Home Affairs [2020] FCA 1104, decided on 03-08-2020]

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

Delhi High Court: Sanjeev Narula, J., while addressing a matter wherein a child aged 9 years old was sexually assaulted, held that,

Pulling down the leggings of the child victim and touching of the thighs is evident of sexual intent and accordingly constitutes an offence of sexual assault.

Appellant impugns Judgment on conviction and order on sentence whereby appellant had been convicted of an offence under Section 10 of the POCSO Act, 2012.

Case of the prosecution

Victim girl who was 9 years old at the time of incident informed that the when the mother was away to her job, appellant came inside the house and removed her leggings and stated feeling/rubbing his hand on her thighs. The victim became frightened, tried to run out of the house but the appellant pulled her inside the house.

Somehow, the victim managed to free herself and went to the house of one Auntie in the neighbourhood.

Later, she informed her mother and thereafter the police was called.

Further, FIR was registered based on the above complaint.

As per the prosecution, the child victim, her brother and mother of the victim remained consistent in their respective statements given to the police as also in their testimonies before the trial court.

Section 29 of POCSO Act raises a statutory presumption against the accused.

Accused has not been able to dispel the presumption or discharge the onus. It is established from the testimony of the child victim and her brother that the appellant/accused had pulled down the leggings of the child and touched her thighs. Pulling down the leggings of the child victim and touching of the thighs is evident of sexual intent and accordingly constitutes an offence of sexual assault in terms of Section 7 of POCSO Act.

In terms of Section 9 (m) of POCSO Act since sexual assault was committed on a child below the age of 12, it would amount to aggravated sexual assault punishable under Section 10 of POCSO Act.

Bench stated that trial court passed a well reasoned order. No infirmity was found in the trail court’s order.

Thus, the appeal was dismissed. [Rajendra v. State, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 724 , decided on 03-07-2020]

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] 

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Anu Malhotra, J., while upholding the decision of the trial court in a case where a 10-year-old minor was sexually assaulted, issued directions for the Jail Superintendent to consider an appropriate programme for the appellant ensuring the following:

  • appropriate correctional courses through meditational therapy
  • educational opportunity, vocational training and skill development programme to enable a livelihood option and an occupational status;
  • shaping of post release rehabilitation programme for the appellant well in advance before the date of his release to make him self-dependent;
  • adequate counselling being provided to the appellant to be sensitized to understand why he is in prison;
  • conducting of Psychometric tests to measure the reformation taking place and;
  • that the appellant may be allowed to keep contact with his family

Facts

In the present case, appellant assailed the impugned judgment and order through which the appellant was charged for offences punishable under Section 10 of POCSO Act and Section 367 of Penal Code, 1860.

Appellant had allegedly kidnapped the victim who was aged 10 years in order that he may subject him to unnatural lust or knowing it to be likely that he would be so subjected to unnatural lust and had thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 376 of IPC.

It has been stated that appellant forcibly put off the trouser of the victim and also removed his trouser and then grappled with the victim with sexual intent and thus having committed an offence punishable under Section 10 of POCSO Act.

Complainant (father of the child) stated that his son aged 10 years went to the grocery in front of the lane and after about half an hour came back crying and told him that the accused caught hold of his hand and took the child inside his house and made the child hold the object through which he urinated in his hand sticking to the child and when the child started crying, accused made the child wear his clothes and left him outside.

When the investigation was done, the child corroborated the aspect of his having been molested by the accused.

On being cross-examined by accused’s counsel, child stated that he had narrated the incident first to his mother and later his father was apprised of the same.

Analysis & Decision

High Court on perusal of the impugned judgment and record available held that, it is apparent that the statement of minor child during examination under Section 164 CrPC and the one made in Court corroborate the factum that the minor child had been forcibly taken away by the accused.

Bench observed that, there is variation in the statements under Section 164 CrPC of the minor child in relation to the accused having stuck his body against that of the child.

Division Bench’s decision in, Court on its own Motion v. State, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 10301 was cited and further referring to the same it was stated that,

‘…dynamics of child sexual abuse create a situation that children rarely disclose sexual abuse immediately after the event and that the set disclosure tends to be a process rather that a single episode and is often initiated following a physical complaint or a change in behaviour”

Hence the Court noted that in the present case it is apparent that there are variations in the statement of the child at different stages of the investigation and the trial but that does not retract in any manner from the veracity of allegations levelled against the accused in view of corroboration of all circumstances of the incident, then by the parents of the minor child and it is thus held that there is no infirmity in the impugned Judgment.

Accused i.e. appellant herein falls within the ambit of sexual assault inflicted in terms of Section 2(i) of the Protection of Child from the Sexual Offences, 2012 (POCSO). The intent of the accused while committing the act on the child is described in terms of Sections 3 & 5 of POCSO Act and thus trial court had rightly drawn the presumption of offence.

In terms of Section 9(m) of POCSO Act whoever commits an offence which falls within the ambit of aggravated sexual assault on the minor thus accused has rightly been convicted by the trial court under Section 10 of POCSO Act, 2012.

Therefore, the deposition of witnesses during trial inclusive of the statement made by the minor child establishes the commission of the offence punishable under Section 367 of IPC, also against the appellant in as much as the act of kidnapping of the minor child from the legal guardianship of his father and dragging him into the house of the accused for commission of an aggravated sexual assault on the minor child was undoubtedly done in order to exercise undue sexual assault inflicted on the minor in terms of Section 12 of the POCSO Act, 2012. [Manoj Tyagi v. State (Govt. of NCT, Delhi), 2020 SCC OnLine Del 469, decided on 25-02-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Vibhu Bakhru, J., while dismissing the present appeal upheld the decision of the trial court for offences charged under Section 4 of POCSO Act and Sections 342/363/376 of Penal Code, 1860.

In the present appeal filed by the appellant was convicted by the trial court for the under the above-stated Sections. Appellant contended that the impugned judgment ought to be set aside, since it does not extend the benefit of doubt to the appellant in view of inconsistencies in the testimonies of various witnesses.

Further, he contends that MLC of the victim stated that her hymen was normal and the doctor, who was examined for the prosecution had confirmed that the hymen could be ruptured for other reasons as well. Adding to his contentions, he also states that the victim was actually raped by PW-7 and not by the appellant.

Though, the FSL report supported the case of the prosecution that the victim had suffered sexual assault by the accused.

While recording his statement under Section 313 of CrPC, accused also stated that 3-4 days prior to the incident, a quarrel had broken out between him and the mother of the victim due to which, he had been falsely implicated in the case.

Petitioner’s counsel also submitted that since the physical evidence did not corroborate the charges levelled against the appellant, he ought to be acquitted.

Court’s Decision

High Court stated that no contention was advanced on behalf of the appellant was found to be persuasive. Evidence obtained in this case clearly establishes that the appellant is guilty of the offences for which he was charged.

Court stated that, there is overwhelming evidence to establish that the prosecutrix was recovered from the factory premises of the appellant and the same was closed from outside. Mother of the prosecutrix testified to the aforesaid effect. All the other witnesses in the case corroborated the said fact.

Insofar as the MLC was concerned, Dr Anuradha Tyagi was examined, wherein she stated that it was correct that the hymen of the victim appeared to be normal (externally) and as per P/R examination, no tear or bleeding was found. However, she reiterated that the hymen of the prosecutrix was not found to be intact.

Thus, the Court held that testimonies of witnesses were all consistent and there is little room for entertaining any doubt whether the appellant had committed the offences for which he was charged. Forensic evidence fully establishes the case of the prosecution beyond any pale of doubt.

Hence the present appeal is unmerited and dismissed. [Chhedi Paswan v. State, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 464, decided on 17-02-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Anoop Chitkara, J., allowed a bail petition of an accused who was under arrest due to an FIR registered under Sections 452 and 376 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 4 and 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the POCSO Act’).

The FIR stated that the mother of the victim mentioned that she stayed in her matrimonial home with two of her children, a son aged 13 years and a daughter aged 14 years and her daughter was deaf from childhood and couldn’t even walk on her own. On 8-10-2019 at 7:30 p.m., she was going to attend the wedding in the village when she noticed the accused petitioner standing near the door of her house, on which she asked him the purpose to which he left the place. Later, she locked the house after placing her daughter inside and left to attend the wedding. When she returned at around 10.30 p.m. she found the locks to be broken and the blanket on her daughter removed along with bloodstains on her salwar. She suspected the accused petitioner and requested a medical examination after which he was arrested on filing the FIR. The doctor who had conducted the medical examination had said that there was no sign of any physical violence over the body and also mentioned that she was not menstruating and there was no external injury however the possibility of sexual intercourse could not be ruled out. The report from Forensic Science Laboratory did not deduct semen on clothes of the victim, vaginal swab and quilt cover.

On the other hand, the petitioner had specifically mentioned that the mother of the victim had been purchasing daily needs and ration items from him, on credit but despite requests, she did not pay and that he was not involved with the alleged offence. The petitioner had filed a petition under Section 439 Criminal Procedure Code, before Special Judge but it was dismissed thus the instant petition arose.

High Court while allowing the petition explained that the doctor did not find even a single trace of sexual assault nor the Laboratory deducted any semen from the vaginal swab and the mother’s allegation is also based on mere suspicion thus the petitioner is entitled to receive bail. [Bhup Singh v. State of H.P., 2020 SCC OnLine HP 147, decided on 24-01-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a bid to make criminal justice system responsive in cases relating to sexual assaults, a 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and BR Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ has sought information with regard to status of affairs at ground level from various duty holders like investigation agencies, prosecution, medico-forensic agencies, rehabilitation, legal aid agencies and also Courts to get a holistic view.

Taking note of the fact that post Nirbhaya incident, which shocked the conscience of the nation, many amendments were introduced in criminal law redefining the ambit of offences, providing for effective and speedy investigation and trial, the Court noticed that still the desired results were not achieved and that as per the latest report of National Crime Records Bureau of Crime in India in the year 2017, total 32,559 cases of rape were registered in India. It said,

“The Nirbhaya case is not an isolated case where it has taken so long to reach finality. In fact, it is said that it has been one of the cases where agencies have acted swiftly taking into account the public outrage.”

Here are some of the most important information sought by the Court:

Registration of FIR by woman police officer

  • whether all the Police Stations have a woman police officer or woman officer to record the information of the victim?
  • whether provisions are available for recording of first information by a woman police officer or a woman officer at the residence of the victim or any other place of choice of such person in case the victim is temporarily or permanently mentally or physically disabled?

Failure of a public servant to record any information of sexual assault offences

  • whether any case has been registered under the Section 166A of IPC against any public servant?
  • whether there is any mechanism in place to complain about the non-recording of information by the officer giving cause to offence under Section 166A with any other institution/office, other than the concerned police station?

Medical treatment and examination of the victim

  • whether any advisory or guidelines have been issued by the authorities to all the hospitals and medical centres in this regard?
  • whether the medical experts have done away with the Per-Vaginum examination commonly referred to as ‘Two-finger test’ and whether any directions have been issued by the states in this regard?
  • whether medical experts have done away with the practice of giving opinion on the previous sexual experience of the victim or any directions have been issued by the states in this regard?
  • whether the Medical Opinion in the cases relating to rape and similar offences is being given in tune with definition of rape under Section 375 of IPC as it stands today?
  • whether the states have adopted the Guidelines & Protocols of The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India or have they prepared their own Guidelines & Protocols?
  • whether requisite Medico-forensic kit are available with all the hospitals/health centres run by the Government or by local authorities?

“Medical treatment and examination of the victim is a very important aspect not only for the immediate relief to the victim but also provides intrinsic evidences for the trial.”

Completion of Investigation

  • whether police is completing the investigation and submitting the final report within a period of two months from the date of recording of information of the offence and if no, reasons for delay?

Trial before a woman judge

  • whether trial of cases relating to rape are being conducted by Courts presided over by a woman?
  • whether sufficient number of lady judges are available to preside over the Courts dealing with sexual offences and rape?
  • whether all courts holding trial of cases relating to offence of rape have requisite infrastructure and are conducting in camera trial?
  • whether the trial relating to cases of rape is being completed within a period of two months from the date of filing of charge-sheet, if not, the reasons for the delay?

Victim and witness protection

  • whether any policy of victim/witness protection in the cases relating to rape is framed and implemented?
  • whether police protection is being provided to the victim during investigation and trial of the offence?
  • whether the trial Courts have taken appropriate measures to ensure that victim woman is not confronted by the accused during the trial as mandated by Section 273 Cr.P.C.?

“The protection of witness during the investigation and trial is essential in cases of this sensitive nature. Many a times the accused live in proximity of the victim. The possibility of tampering with evidence and pressurizing the witness affects fair trial.”

Utilisation of Nirbhaya Fund

In the year 2013, a separate fund namely Nirbhaya Fund for projects of women safety to support initiatives by government and NGOs was created. The Court called for the status of utilization of the Nirbhaya Fund by Central or State Government(s).

Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra will assist the Court as Amicus Curiae in the matter and the matter will next be taken up on 07.02.2020.

[In re: Assessment of the Criminal Justice System in response to Sexual Offences, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1654, order dated 18.12.2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that minor victim of sexual assault was set on fire by her tormentor resulting in her death in Agartala district of Tripura.

The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Tripura calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks including status of the investigation and any relief granted to the NOK of the deceased.

The Commission has observed that though it is not mentioned in the media reports that whether the aggrieved family or the victim had approached the police authorities with their complaint but the death of a minor girl as a result of a barbaric act done by the accused is a matter of concern for it. Reiterating its displeasure towards increasing incidents of sexual assault of women across the country, the Commission has said that it is awaiting reports from all the States and UTs including Union Ministry of Women and Child Development in the matter.

According to the media reportsd, carried today on the 9-10-2019 that on 28-10-2019, the victim was kidnapped by the accused from her residence and was subjected to sexual abuse. Later, the accused raised a demand of Rs 5 Lakhs in lieu of solemnizing marriage with the victim. Some amount of money was reportedly paid by the family and there was a dispute between the family of the victim and the accused for the remaining money. As mentioned in the news reports, the accused and his mother have been arrested by the police after the incident.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 09-12-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar, a person tried to outrage the modesty of a woman and when he was not successful, he poured kerosene on her and put her on fire.

The victim woman has suffered 85 per cent burn injuries and has been admitted in the SKMCH Hospital where her condition is critical. Reportedly, the victim’s family had approached the police five times for registarion of an FIR but no acrtion was taken but neither an FIR was registered by the police nor any action was taken against the accused.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news reports, if true, amount to serious violation of human rights of the victim. Accordingly, it has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, Bihar calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks. The Commission would also like to know about the status of the investigation and treatment of the victim woman, who is reportedly in a state of coma at SKMCH Hospital in Muzaffarpur. The report must include whether any departmental action has been taken against the guilty police officials and whether any relief has been granted to the victim/ family.

According to the media reports, the accused who allegedly assaulted the victim has also sustained burn injuries in his hand. The accused, as mentioned in the news report was harassing the victim for the last three years for which the family of the woman had approached the Ahiyapur police station five times, to get an FIR registered but no FIR was registered by the police. Now, reportedly, the police is making efforts to arrest him.


National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 09-12-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Suresh Kumar Kait, J., dismissed a criminal revision petition filed by the State against the order of the trial court whereby the accused-respondent discharged from the offence punishable under Section 12 (prevention from sexual harassment) of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

An FIR was registered against the accused on the complaint of the mother of the minor victim. It was alleged that while the victim was playing with her friends, the accused came to them and said: “do rupees doonga, mere ghar chal, panch minute ki baat hai”. However, none of the girls went with him. The accused was tried and discharged as aforesaid. Aggrieved thereby, the State (represented by Hirein Sharma, APP) preferred the instant revision petition.

The High Court noted that the observations of the trial court that statement of the victim and the complainant, recorded under Section 164 CrPC did not reflect that the accused committed any offensive act upon the victim or he had any sexual intent. It was further observed that the main ingredient of Section 12 of the POCSO Act, i.e., sexual intent, was missing in the entire act of the accused and, therefore, the prima facie offence of sexual harassment was not made out against him and he was accordingly discharged.

The High Court noted that the victim, in her statement, had not stated anything regarding any sexual intent or sexual assault; the FIR was registered on the statement made by her mother, wherein she had made some allegations against the accused.

The High Court was of the opinion that the fact remains that the victim did not mention any act of sexual assault or sexual intent, therefore, there was no illegality or perversity in the order passed by the trial court thereby discharging the accused. Finding no merits in the instant petition, the Court dismissed the same. [State v. Anil, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 10995, decided on 06-11-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In an appeal against the verdict of Gujarat High Court that quashed the criminal proceedings against a man accused for sexually assaulting and blackmailing his employee, the 3-judge bench of UU Lalit, Indu Malhotra and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ has set aside the verdict and held that the High Court has got carried away by the agreement/settlement arrived at, between the parties, and recorded a finding that the physical relationship of the appellant with the respondent was consensual.

The Court said,

“where sexual intercourse by the accused is proved and the question is whether it was without the consent of the woman alleged to have been raped, and such woman states in her evidence before the Court that she did not consent, the court shall presume that she did not consent.”

The Court was hearing the case where the respondent had taken inappropriate pictures of the appellant while she was asleep. He had gone to visit the appellant when she was unwell. Taking advantage of the situation, he started blackmailing her to make viral her pictures and to terminate her employment. He then started committing rape on her. When she resigned from the job, he contacted her fiancé and told him is not of good character, she had physical relationship with him and with other boys. When the fiancé refused to meet him, he sent a cover to his residence containing her nude/inappropriate pictures. The parties later entered into a written agreement wherein it was agreed that the dispute between the parties is settled and that the respondent has allegedly paid a huge amount to the appellant.

The Court noticed that whether the respondent by clicking inappropriate pictures of the appellant has blackmailed her or not, and further whether he has continued to interfere by calling appellant’s fiancé or not are the matters for investigation. It, hence, held that the High Court should not have made a roving inquiry while considering the application filed under Section 482 CrPC.

Holding that the High Court has got carried away by the agreement/settlement arrived at, between the parties, and recorded a finding that the physical relationship of the appellant with the respondent was consensual, the Court said,

“When it is the allegation of the appellant, that such document itself is obtained under threat and coercion, it is a matter to be investigated.”

[Miss XYZ v. State of Gujarat, CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1619 OF 2019, decided on 25.10.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court:

“The heinous crime committed should not be led into prosecuting a person only because he was part of the Management of the School.”

The bench of L Nageswara Rao and Hemant Gupta, JJ said while quashing the trial against a member of the School management in a case relating to sexual assault of a 6-year-old girl in her school in Haldwani.

The FIR filed by the father of the prosecuterix mentioned that a teacher had sexually assaulted his daughter. In the first statement recorded, the prosecuterix mentioned that the teacher had deliberately and repeatedly assaulted her. However, in another statement, she stated that after she returned from washroom, two Uncles came and picked her away. She also mentioned that these two persons work outside school. She said that one of them wore spectacles. The father of the prosecutrix filed an application to summon the person who wears spectacles, as identified by the victim. She then identified the appellant as the bespectacled person. The principal of the School, however, in a statement issued by her, said that the anger was directed against the Management of the School of which the appellant is a part and hence, his name was dragged in a offence he never committed.

Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court noticed that the prosecutrix is a small child. It is parents of the child who have taken the photographs either from the website of the School or from the Facebook to introduce a person with spectacles as an accused. The initial version of the father of the prosecutrix and of the prosecutrix herself, as disclosed by her father in the FIR, is assault by one person. It said that even if the father of the child has basis to be angry with the Management of the School but, there is no prima facie case of any active part on the part of the appellant is made out in violating the small child. The involvement of other persons on the statement of the child of impressionable age does not inspire confidence that the appellant is liable to be proceeded under Section 319 of the Code. In fact, it is suggestive role of the family which influences the mind of the child to indirectly implicate the appellant.

“Obviously, the father of the child must have anger against the Management of the School as his child was violated when she was studying in the School managed by the appellant but, we find that the anger of the father against the Management of the School including the appellant is not sufficient to make him to stand trial for the offences punishable under Section 376(2) of the IPC read with Sections 5/6 of the POCSO Act.”

The Court also took note of the fact that the prosecution after investigations has found no material to charge the appellant. It, hence, held that statement of the child so as to involve a person wearing spectacles as an accused does not inspire confidence disclosing more than prima facie to make him to stand trial of the offences. Therefore, the order of summoning the appellant under Section 319 of the Code is not legal.

[Mani Pushpak Joshi v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1362, decided on 17.10.2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: N. Anand Venkatesh, J. while addressing a petition expressed disappointment in respect to the manner in which POCSO Act is being misused, as, in the present case, the wife went down to the extent where she has put up false allegation of sexual assault against her husband with their daughter who is aged 11 years old only with the motive to get custody of her daughters.

“One of those unfortunate cases, where the wife has resorted to giving a complaint against her husband alleging that he has committed sexual assault against their daughter.”

In the present case, the 2nd respondent gave a complaint to the respondent police stating that there is an illicit relationship between the petitioner – father of their daughter. She adds that, she was able to identify and see some bodily changes in her elder daughter and also she had become pregnant. Her pregnancy was terminated through native medicines.

Respondent police had registered an FIR for an offence under Section 6 of the Protection of Child from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

Petitioner apprehended arrest and approached this Court by filing the Anticipatory Bail Petition. Court summoned the minor girl in order to enquire her in person. She completely denied the allegations made against the petitioner.

Observations made by the Court:

Court categorically found that the de facto complainant lodged a false complaint with an ulterior motive to threaten petitioner and thereby petitioner was granted anticipatory bail.

Present petition is aimed to quash the FIR which is itself an abuse of process of law and is being used to threaten the petitioner to wreck vengeance against the petitioner.

Court on summoning the victim girl noted that, she had narrated the entire incident clearly where it can be seen that the defacto complainant was attempting to take the daughters into her custody and for that purpose, she cooked up a false story against the petitioner. It was also added to the Court’s observation that, the victim girl had taken a very consistent stand both at the time of giving a statement under Section 164 CrPC and at the time when she was personally enquired by this Court.

This case has shocked the conscience of the Court and it is unbelievable that the mother just for the sake of taking custody of her child, can go to the extent of making such serious allegations against her husband.

Court while analysing the seriousness of the false allegation also stated that it is an eye-opener for the Court as now the Court is aware of the extent with which POCSO Act can be misused.

“2nd Respondent without caring for the future of her own daughter, proceeded to give a complaint alleging illicit relationship between her husband and daughter”—This is the worst type of false prosecution a Court can ever encounter.

Therefore, respondent police is directed to immediately proceed against 2nd respondent under Section 22 of the POCSO Act for having given a false complaint and accordingly action to be taken in accordance with the law.

This case should be a lesson for all those who attempt to misuse the provisions of this Act, just to satisfy their own selfish ends.

Thus Criminal Original Petition is accordingly allowed. [N. Chandramohan v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Mad 3666, decided on 20-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Sikkim High Court: Bhaskar Raj Pradhan, J. hearing a criminal appeal filed by a person convicted of rape and sexual assault under Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter ‘IPC’) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (hereinafter ‘POCSO’), partly allowed the appeal and set aside conviction under POCSO Act on the ground that punishment imposed under IPC was greater and more rigorous than that imposed under POCSO Act.

Appellant, a taxi driver, was hired by the victim and her two friends to go sightseeing in and around Gangtok. It was alleged that he took the girls for sightseeing and during this period became violent with the victim’s friend. When they wished to return, he began making demands for money and forced the victim’s friend to get off from the car and drove off with the victim while she was unconscious. The victim filed a criminal case against the appellant for commission of rape, penetrative sexual assault on a minor as well as for voluntary causing hurt. Special Judge, POCSO Act convicted the accused-appellant under Sections 323, 354, 354B, 376(1) of IPC and Sections 3(a) and 4 of the POCSO Act. Aggrieved thereby, this appeal was filed.

K. T. Tamang, legal aid counsel for the appellant, argued that since there was a gap between the alleged incident and the seizure of the victim’s article along with the appellants clothing it could not be ascertained if the bodily fluids found on the clothes belonged to the appellant. He relied on the case Ramdas v. State of Maharashtra, (2007) 2 SCC 170 to ask for corroboration of the victim’s testimony as she had hidden that she had consumed alcohol. He argued that based on the admission made by the Investigating Officer (IO), the appellant and the victim’s friend had purchased the alcohol. Hence, the victim had not been sedated but had consumed alcohol. He also submitted that the medical evidence ruled out all the possibilities of ocular evidence being true and thus ocular evidence should be disbelieved, as per the case of Abdul Sayeed v. State of MP, (2010) 10 SCC 259.

SK Chetri (Additional Public Prosecutor) appeared for the State and established the minority of the victim at the time of the incident. He also proved that it was the appellant who had driven the victim and her two friends on the day of the incident. He further proved that victim’s friend was hit by the appellant while they were in the car before they were made to get off from the vehicle. He had also successfully proved that there were bruise marks on the victim’s neck and contusions on the appellant’s chest both of which dated back to the time of the offence. The victim’s deposition was further corroborated by both oral as well as material evidence, although there were a few minor discrepancies between the witness statements.

The Court observed that besides the deposition of the victim about penetration there was no direct medical proof of rape. However, the victim was 17.5 years of age at the time of the commission of the offence and therefore capable of understanding what rape meant. In addition to this, the injuries on the victim as well as the appellant reflected signs of resistance. It was noted that the evidence of the victim was not totally inconsistent with the medical evidence, and it was settled that ocular testimony of a witness has greater evidentiary value vis-a`-vis medical evidence. Even the medical evidence did not completely rule out the possibilities of the commission of rape by the appellant. Further, there was no direct contradiction between ocular and medical evidence.

The Court was of the view that the Special Judge could have punished the appellant only under Section 376 IPC and not under Section 4 of the POCSO Act. Consequently, the sentence under Section 4 of the POCSO Act was set aside as punishment under Section 376(1) IPC mandated the compulsory imposition of rigorous imprisonment with hard labor which was greater in degree than the one provided under Section 4 of the POCSO Act.  Hence, the appeal was partly allowed.[Prem Rai v. State of Sikkim, 2019 SCC OnLine Sikk 81, decided  on 07-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: Arindam Lodh, J. reduced the sentence of 5 years rigorous imprisonment awarded to the appellant by the trial Judge to 3 years for the commission of an offence under Section 7 (sexual assault) made punishable under Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

The appellant was tried and convicted for committing the offence of sexual assault on the prosecutrix when she was returning from mela. The appellant had filed the present appeal against the said judgment. R.G. Chakraborty, Advocate representing the appellant strenuously argued that the entire story was false and the appellant was totally innocent. Per contra, A. Roy Barman, Additional Public Prosecutor appearing for the State submitted that the prosecution had been able to prove the case beyond any shadow of doubt.

As per prosecutrix’s evidence, the High Court found that the appellant came in contact with the prosecutrix physically with sexual intention. However, there was no evidence that the appellant touched private parts of the prosecutrix. The Court was of the opinion that while maintaining the appellant’s conviction, the order of sentence passed against him warrant’s alteration. It was observed: “Since there is no specific evidence that the appellant had touched the private parts of the prosecutrix, in my opinion following the doctrine of proportionate punishment, justice would be made if the sentence of 5 years is reduced to 3 years.” The sentence was reduced accordingly. At the same time, other parts of the impugned judgment relating to conviction and sentence under Section 341 and 342 IPC remained unaltered. [Asok Das v. State of Tripura, 2019 SCC OnLine Tri 190, decided on 13-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of K.Harilal and Annie John. JJ. allowed a revision petition filed by mother of a 15-year old girl, who was subjected to sexual assault by a family friend named Imam Mr Shafeek Al-Kasmi.

The instant petition under Section 102 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 challenging the order of respondent whereby it was declared that petitioner’s minor daughter required care and protection and that the child’s counselling shall be carried out by admitting her in an institution. 

Mr Ram Mohan G., counsel on behalf of the petitioner, submitted that the continued detention of a child under the orders of respondent was prejudicial to her interests and well being as she required the moral support, guidance and presence of her mother.

Mr Suman Chakravarthy, Senior Government Pleader appearing on behalf of respondent, submitted that even though the sexual assault took place in February 2019, petitioner and her relatives did not report the matter to police due to which the child could not be medically examined. Further, as per the report of District Child Protection Officer, it was not congenial to restore the child to the petitioner, since the accused was a well-known religious leader and a frequent visitor of their family, who had not been arrested so far. Therefore, the child was not safe with the petitioner.

The learned Judges interacted with the child in Chambers in the absence of her mother and relatives. The child expressed her willingness to go along with her mother or maternal grandmother but was not ready to live in the institution. 

The Court opined that inquiry, as contemplated under Section 36 of the Act, was not conducted by the respondent in the presence of petitioner or other family members of the victim. Respondent did not try to ascertain the wishes of the child. Thus, the mandate of Section 3 of the Act was violated. It was held that when the child needs care and protection, then before putting the child in Children’s Home, there should be the application of mind by the committee and it must also take into account the child’s wishes along with the investigation report of Child Welfare Committee.

In view of the above, the impugned order was set aside and Superintendent of Child Shelter Home was directed to release the child forthwith to the petitioner-mother.[Sheeja Navas v. Child Welfare Committee, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1156, Order dated 08-03-2019]