Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Division Bench of Dr Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Gautam Chowdhary, JJ., has requested the Registrar (Listing) through the Registrar General to place the matter before the Chief Justice that periodical listing of matters be taken up in the High Court so that those who are in jail for more than 10 or 14 years, where the appeals are pending, may at least get their appeal heard which are mainly jail appeals. The Court was deciding an appeal filed by the appellant who was in jail for 20 years. The Court reversed the conviction recorded against the appellant.

“Since 20 years, the accused is in jail.”

It was expressed by the Court that the most unfortunate aspect of the instant litigation was the same being preferred through jail.

The appellant challenged the decision passed by the Court of Sessions Judge, Lalitpur, whereby he was convicted under Section 376 IPC. Further, the appellant was convicted under Section 3(2)(v) read with Section 3(1)(xii) of the Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and Section 506 IPC.

Prosecution case was that the prosecutrix was raped by the accused-appellant. On disclosing the incident to the family, they did not report the same to the police station due to being threatened. Later, however, the victim along with her father-in-law and husband went to the police station to report the same.

Analysis, Law and Decision

The Court noted that the Trial Judge brushed aside the fact that the report was lodged three days later, but did not give any credence to this fact and decided to go through the merits of the case.

Further, the Court noted that although there were concrete positive signs from the oral testimony of the prosecutrix as regards the commission of forcible sexual intercourse; however, the medical officer opined both in ocular as well as her written report that the prosecutrix was having five months pregnant and no definite opinion about rape could be given.

In view of the above, the Court added that there were no injuries on the private part of the lady, who was a fully grown-up person and was pregnant.

Adding, the Court stated that even if it went as per the version of the prosecutrix that the accused had gagged her mouth for ten minutes and had thrashed her on ground, there would have been some injuries to the fully grown lady on the basis of the body. However, according to the doctor’s opinion, there were no signs of forcible sexual intercourse.

In such view of the discussion, the Court was of the opinion that the chain of the incident goes to show that the prosecutrix was not raped as would be clear from the provision of Section 375 read with Section 376 IPC.

The Court held that the Trial Judge did not make any finding as to the fact of how the commission of offence under Section 376 IPC was made out. The Trial Judge had materially erred as he did not discuss what was the evidence that the act was committed because of the caste of the prosecutrix. The reasoning of the lower Court Judge were against the record and perverse as the Judge without any evidence on record on his own has felt that the heinous crime was committed because the appellant had captured the will of the prosecutrix and because the police officer had investigated the matter as an atrocities case which would not be undertaken within the purview of Section 3(2)(v) of Atrocities Act and had recorded conviction under Section 3(2)(v) of Act, which cannot be sustained.

Hence, in view of the above discussion, the Court held that the appellant was wrongly convicted resulting in reversing the impugned decision.

While concluding, the Court noted that the State of U.P. even after 14 years of incarceration does not even send the matter to the Magistrate for re-evaluation of the cases for remission as per mandate of Sections 432 and 433 CrPC.

“Sections 433 and 434 CrPC enjoins a duty upon the State Government as well as Central Government to commute the sentences as mentioned in the said section. We are pained to mention that even after 14 years of incarceration, the State did not think of exercising its power for commutation of sentence of life imprisonment of the present accused and it appears that power of Governor provided under Article 161 of the Constitution of India are also not exercised though there are restriction to such power to commute sentence. The object of Sections 432 read with Section 433 of the CrPC is to remit the sentence awarded to the accused if it appears that the offence committed by him is not so grave.”

In the Court’s opinion, in the instant case, the appellant should have been entitled to remission. The factual scenario in the present case would show that had the Government thought of taking up the case of the appellant as per jail manual, it would have been found that the case of the appellant was not so grave that it could not have been considered for remission/commutation.

Seeing the sorry state of affairs, the Court requested the Registrar (Listing) through the Registrar General to place the matter before the Chief Justice that periodical listing of matters be taken up in the High Court so that those who are in jail for more than 10 or 14 years, where the appeal have been pending, may at least get their appeal heard which are mainly jail appeals.[Vishnu v. State of U.P., 2021 SCC OnLine All 133, decided on 28-01-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: Sanjay Dhar J., while allowing the present bail application, observed that given to the relationship shared between the prosecutrix and the petitioner, it cannot be determined at once whether physical relationship built therein was forced or consensual.

Through the present application, petitioner-accused has sought bail in the case arising out of an offence under Section 376 Penal Code, 1860 registered with Police Station, Katra. It is the case of prosecutrix that the petitioner cohabited and thereby developed physical relation with her on a false pretext of marriage. Upon coming to know that the petitioner is to enter into a wedlock with some other woman, the prosecutrix narrated the entire incident to her mother upon which a complaint under Section 376 IPC was registered against the petitioner. According to the petitioner, the allegations made in the FIR are vexatious and baseless and that no offence under Section 376 IPC is made out against him as even if it is assumed that there was any physical relationship between the petitioner and the prosecutrix, the same was consensual. Further, the petitioner has denied having made any false promise of marriage to the prosecutrix.

Court summarized the principles governing the grant or refusal of bail in the following points;

  1. The gravity of the offence and the nature of the accusation including severity of punishment in the case of conviction.
  2. The position and status of the accused vis-à-vis the victims or witnesses.
  3. The likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice.
  4. The possibility of the accused tampering with the evidence and/or witnesses and obstructing the course of justice.
  5. The possibility of repetition of the offence.
  6. The prima facie satisfaction of the Court in support of the charge including frivolity of the charge.
  7. Stage of the investigation.
  8. Larger interest of the public or the State.

Further, the Court placed reliance on the case of, Mahipal v. Rajesh Kumar and another, (2020) 2 SCC 118, wherein it was said, “…No straight jacket formula exists for courts to assess an application for the grant or rejection of bail. At the stage of assessing whether a case is fit for the grant of bail, the court is not required to enter into a detailed analysis of the evidence on record to establish beyond reasonable doubt the commission of the crime by the accused. That is a matter for trial. However, the Court is required to examine whether there is a prima facie or reasonable ground to believe that the accused had committed the offence and on a balance of the considerations involved, the continued custody of the accused sub-serves the purpose of the criminal justice system.”

 Another case bearing similar facts was cited by the Court, Uday v. State of Karnataka, (2003) 4 SCC 46, wherein the Supreme Court observed,

It usually happens in such cases, when two young persons are madly in love, that they promise to each other several times that come what may, they will get married. As stated by the prosecutrix the appellant also made such a promise on more than one occasion. In such circumstances, the promise loses all significance, particularly when they are over come with emotions and passion and find themselves in situations and circumstances where they, in a weak moment, succumb to the temptation of having sexual relationship. This is what appears to have happened in this case as well, and the prosecutrix willingly consented to having sexual intercourse with the appellant with whom she was deeply in love, not because he promised to marry her, but because she also desired it. In these circumstances, it would be very difficult to impute to the appellant knowledge that the prosecutrix had consented in consequence of a misconception of fact arising from his promise. In any event, it was not possible for the appellant to know what was in the mind of the prosecutrix when she consented, because there were more reasons than one for her to consent

It was conclusively observed by the Court,

“The mystery that has to be unravelled by the investigating agency in such circumstances would be whether the consent of the prosecutrix to have sexual intercourse with petitioner was a consensual and deliberate choice on her part or it was obtained on account of misconception of fact on the basis of a false promise of marriage. This Court would not like to comment on this aspect of the matter at this stage, but then the material on record does suggest that there was deep-seated love between the petitioner and the prosecutrix.”

While allowing the present bail application Court said,

“Having regard to the long standing love affair between the prosecutrix and the petitioner coupled with the manner in which they have lived with each other for months together, a prima facie case for grant of bail is made out.”  [Rahul Raina v. Union Territory J&K, 2021 SCC OnLine J&K 13, decided on 27-01-2021]


Sakshi Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: R. Pongiappan, J., observed that:

“…saptpadi for Hindus is the necessary requirement, which if completed make a marriage valid in the eyes of law provided the parties are of sound mind and don’t fall within the prohibited degrees of relationship with each other.”

Instant appeal was filed to set aside the judgment and conviction passed by Sessions Judge.

Accused was charged for the offences under Sections 366 and 376(1) of Penal Code, 1860.

Analysis and Decision

Bench noted that in respect to alleged marriage, PW 10 who is the victim girl had stated before the trial Court that on the date of occurrence, both herself and the accused ran away from the village and accused tied thali to her. In light of the said evidence, it appeared that the victim girl had also consented for the marriage.

Additional Public Prosecutor appearing for the State contended that since the alleged marriage had happened to the victim was at the age of 15 years and 10 months, the said marriage is not legally valid and also the same has not been solemnised as per Hindu rites and customs.

This Court also found that the girl had not completed the age of 16 years at the time of above-stated alleged marriage for which she consented

Further, the Bench observed that during the time of occurrence, the accused had induced the victim girl to go to Palani and afterwards, he tied a thali, Section 361 of IPC was referred which talks about the “kidnapping from lawful guardianship”.

Applying the abovesaid provision along with Section 366 IPC, Court stated that the victim girl was kidnapped for the purpose of marrying her.

Void Marriage

“… a marriage in which either the girl is below 18 years of age, or the boy is below 21 years of age is child marriage.”

Court expressed that in our country, the essential condition for the validity of any marriage is solemnization of the religious ceremonies prescribed by the religion to which the parties belong.

In respect to the instant matter, it was found that the accused and victim girl had not performed the necessary religious ceremonies prescribed by the religion and since the victim girl was of 16 years of age, the alleged marriage with the accused was void.

Sexual Intercourse

With regard to alleged forcible sexual intercourse, it was found that victim girl stayed the accused for a considerable period but during that time, she did not seek for help or even try running away from the place, the said attitude of the victim girl proves that the alleged sexual intercourse had happened only with her consent.

Section 375 IPC

As per the definition of Section 375 IPC, since the victim girl had not completed the age of 18 years at the time of occurrence, according to 6th description of the said Section, Court found that the accused had committed an offence of rape.

Therefore trial Court’s finding of charging the accused under Sections 366 and 376(1) IPC was within four corners of law and no infirmity was found in the said findings.

Since both the victim girl and accused got married themselves and separated along with respective spouses, Court modified the sentence as 5 years instead of 7 years under Section 366 IPC and for the offence under Section 376(1) IPC, Court modified the sentence as 7 years instead of 10 years.

Hence, the Criminal Appeal was partly allowed.[Prakash v. State, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 6025, decided on 30-11-2020]


Advocates who appeared before the Court:

For Appellant: B. Thirumalai for S.Nagarajan

For Respondent: S. Karthikeyan Additional Public Prosecutor

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: S.K. Panigrahi, J., while addressing the instant case highlighted the significance of “Right to be forgotten” and observed that,

“…many victims find the criminal justice system complex, confusing and intimidating.”

The instant application was preferred under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. Offences pertaining to which the application was preferred were punishable under Sections 376, 292, 465, 469, 509 of Penal Code, 1860 read with Sections 66, 66(C), 67, 67(A) of the I.T. Act, 2000.

Factual Matrix

In the FIR set forth on 03-05-2020, It was alleged that the informant was in love with the petitioner for a period of about one year.

Both the petitioner as well as the informant were village mates and classmates. One day, petitioner went to the house of the informant and taking advantage of her being alone, she was raped and the gruesome incident was recorded on his mobile phone.

Petitioner threatened to kill the informant if she disclosed the incident to her parents and also the photos and videos would be made viral.

Further, it was alleged that the petitioner had maintained physical intimacy with the informant.

Objectionable Photos on Facebook

Upon the informant narrating the incident to her parents, the petitioner opened a fake Facebook ID in the name of the informant and uploaded all the objectionable photos using the said ID in order to further traumatize her.

Initially, the police failed to take any step and portrayed unsoundness of the police system. After much difficulty, finally, the informant could get the present FIR lodged.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Prima facie it appeared to the Court that the petitioner uploaded objectionable photos/videos on a social media platform and on police intervention the same was deleted.

“…the information in the public domain is like toothpaste, once it is out of the tube one can’t get it back in and once the information is in the public domain it will never go away.”

Right of the Victim

Court observed that, the Criminal Justice system prescribes a strong penal action against the accused of the heinous crime but there is no mechanism available with respect to the right of the victim to get the objectionable photographs deleted from the server of the Facebook.

Bench adding to the issue of the right of the victim also stated that there is an unprecedented escalation of insensitive behavior on the social media platforms and the victim like the present one could not get those photos deleted permanently from the server of such social media platforms like Facebook.

Right to Privacy | Right to get Deleted

The statute prescribes penal action for the accused of such crimes, the rights of the victim, especially, her right to privacy which is intricately linked to her right to get deleted in so far as those objectionable photos have been left unresolved.

Right to be Forgotten

Bench notes that presently, there is no statute in India which provides for the right to be forgotten/getting the photos erased from the server of the social media platforms permanently. Whereas, the legal possibilities of being forgotten online or offline cries for a widespread debate.

Adding to the above, it was also stated that every single time, it cannot be expected that the victim shall approach the court to get the inaccurate data or information erased which is within the control of data controllers such as Facebook or Twitter or any other social media platforms.

In the case of Google Spain SL v. Agencia Espanola de Protection de Datos, (AEPD), C-131/12 [2014] QB 1022, the European Court of Justice ruled that the European citizens have a right to request that commercial search engines, such as Google, that gather personal information for profit should remove links to private information when asked, provided the information is no longer relevant. The Court, in that case, ruled that the fundamental right to privacy is greater than the economic interest of the commercial firm and, in some circumstances; the same would even override the public interest in access to information.

Relying on the decision of the Supreme Court on K.S. Puttaswamy (Privacy-9J), (2017) 10 SCC 1, Court stated that at present,

“…there is no statue which recognizes right to be forgotten but it is in sync with the right to privacy.”

However, the Ministry of Law and Justice, on recommendations of Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee has included the Right to be forgotten which refers to the ability of an individual to limit, delink, delete, or correct the disclosure of the personal information on the internet that is misleading, embarrassing, or irrelevant etc. as a statutory right in Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019.

Supreme Court in the decision of X v. Hospital ‘Z’, (1998) 8 SCC 296, recognized an individual’s right to privacy as a facet Article 21 of the Constitution of India. It was also pertinently held that the right which would advance the public morality or public interest would alone be enforced through the process of the court, for the reason that moral considerations cannot be kept at bay and the Judges are not expected to sit as mute structures of clay in the halls known as the courtroom but have to be sensitive, “in the sense that they must keep their fingers firmly upon the pulse of the accepted morality of the day.” 

Delhi High Court in the decision of Zulfiqar Ahman Khan v. Quintillion Business Media (P) Ltd., 2019 (175) DRJ 660 also recognised the “right to be forgotten” and ‘Right to be left alone’ as an integral part of individual’s existence.

Karnataka High Court in {Name Redacted} v. Registrar General, WP (Civil) Nos. 36554-36555/2017 decided on 04-01-2018 recognized “Right to be forgotten” explicitly, though in a limited sense. Petitioner’s request to remove his daughter’s name from a judgment involving claims of marriage and forgery was upheld by the Court. It held that recognizing the right to be forgotten would parallel initiatives by ‘western countries’ which uphold this right when ‘sensitive’ cases concerning the ‘modesty’ or ‘reputation’ of people, especially women, were involved.

Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules, 2011

Bench observed that the above-stated was the first legal framework which recognized the need to protect the privacy of personal data, but failed to capture the issue of the “Right to be Forgotten”.

Capturing the images and videos with consent of the woman cannot justify the misuse of such content once the relation between the victim and accused gets strained as it happened in the present case.

Adding to its observations, Court stated that

If the right to be forgotten is not recognized in matters like the present one, any accused will surreptitiously outrage the modesty of the woman and misuse the same in the cyber space unhindered.

High Court also stated in reference to the Personal Data Protection Bill that, Section 27 of the draft Bill, 2018 contains the right to be forgotten. Under Section 27, a data principal (an individual) has the right to prevent continuing disclosure of personal data by a data fiduciary. Court points out that the said Bill carves out the “right to be forgotten”.

Bench prima facie stated that the petitioner has not only committed forcible sexual intercourse with the victim girl but has also deviously recorded the intimate sojourn and uploaded the same on a fake Facebook account.

In view of the heinousness of the crime, petitioner does not deserve any consideration for bail at the present stage.

“Indian Criminal Justice system is more of a sentence oriented system with little emphasis on the disgorgement of victim’s loss and suffering, although the impact of crime on the victim may vary significantly for person(s) and case(s)– for some the impact of crime is short and intense, for others the impact is long-lasting.”

Court in regard to the objectionable photos stated that, allowing such objectionable photos and videos to remain on a social media platform, without the consent of a woman, is a direct affront on a woman’s modesty and, more importantly, her right to privacy.

Bench in view of the above was not inclined to enlarge the petitioner on bail. [Subhranshu Rout v. State of Odisha, 2020 SCC OnLine Ori 878, decided on 23-11-2020]


Advocates who appeared in the matter:

For the Petitioner: Bibhuti Bhusan Behera and S. Bahadur, Advocates

For the Opposite Party: Manoj Kumar Mohanty, Additional Standing Counsel

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), 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1525, decided on 26-11-2020]

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

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

Allahabad High Court: Applicant filed an application under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code which was contemplated by Dinesh Kumar Singh, J. where the prayer was to quash the Charges under certain Sections of Penal Code, 1860.

The applicant was charged under Sections 366, 376, 328, 506, 406 of IPC, in which the Chief Judicial Magistrate had taken cognizance. Santosh Yadav, counsel for the applicant argued that the accused was falsely implicated by the respondent-complainant who was the mother of the victim, the main reason cited by the counsel behind such baseless complaint was alleged desire to the victim to marry applicant. The counsel submitted the statements of the complainant and highlighted that she had stated that ‘she suspected the involvement of accused in the instant case.’ Another issue highlighted was alleged kidnapping by the accused-applicant, it was submitted that the victim was never abducted as she herself went to the police station to register the complaint. The attention of the Court was also drawn towards the other statement of the victim, recorded under Section 161 of CrPC. where the allegation of rape had been made upon the accused applicant who after committing rape had given assurance to marry her and subsequently when she asked to marry he committed assault and refused to marry.  In addition to these aforementioned evidences the applicant submitted an injury report, where it was stated that no marks to injury were found on the victim. Lastly, it was submitted by the learned counsel for the applicant that many facts were ignored by the Investigating Officer and the charge-sheet had been submitted in a routine manner, which was nothing but an abuse of the process of Court and in the interest of justice, the charge sheet deserved to be quashed.

Bhaiya Ghanshyam Singh, Advocate General for the state, had vehemently opposed the prayer for quashing of the charge- sheet and had stated that the evidence which was collected by the Investigating Officer cannot be looked into in this Application under Section 482 CrPC as the same will be required during the trial. It was submitted that High Court had no jurisdiction to appreciate the evidence of the proceedings under Section 482 of CrPC. “because whether there are contradictions or/and inconsistencies in the statements of the witnesses is essentially an issue relating to appreciation of evidence and the same can be gone into by the Judicial Magistrate during trial when the entire evidence is adduced by the parties.”

The Court held that the Investigating Officer had recorded the statements of as many as five witnesses have submitted the charge-sheet. It further opined that “the truthfulness of the statements of the witnesses cannot be scrutinized in Application under Section 482 CrPC” The Court relied upon the Judgment in Anurag Singh v. Chhatisgarh, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 509, where the Supreme Court had held that ‘position of law, was apparent that whether accused wanted to marry the victim right from very beginning or not and whether consent given by victim for sexual intercourse was a free-consent or not, was a subject matter of evidence, which is only possible to be decided after trial.’

Hence, the prayer for quashing the FIR was refused and the application was dismissed.[Kamal Pal v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 3539, decided on 25-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Alexander Thomas, J. disposed a bail application and granted bail by providing various requisite conditions on the petitioner for the safeguard of the victim.

In the present case, the petitioner has been accused of being the sole accused wherein a case has been registered under Sections 450 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’). It has been alleged by the prosecution, being a divorced lady with an 11-year-old minor child that the accused-petitioner had promised her that he would find a tenant for her house which she was looking to let out on rent. It was reported that on the 19-05-2019, the accused-petitioner had invited the lady at a house and to her dismay; the petitioner was alone and indulged her in sexual intercourse.

Counsel representing the accused-petitioner, Sergi Joseph Thomas, submitted that the prosecution in her FI statement had mentioned that she was having an affair with the accused-petitioner and thus indulging in sexual intercourse was based on consent and not forceful. The counsel also submitted that there was a considerable amount of unexplained delay in filing the case since the date of the incident thus leading to fabrication of factual circumstances.

The Public Prosecutor representing the State, Saigi Jacob Palatty contended that if the petitioner is let out on bail, there will be a possibility of the petitioner intimidating the witnesses and the lady as well. 

The present Bench, upon perusal of the facts and circumstances of the case, stated that the petitioner had already served 34 days detention and there has been an unexplained delay in setting the complaint into motion from the victim lady’s end. The Court noted that merely because the investigation is pending the accused-petitioner cannot be denied bail. However, since there exists a possibility of the accused-petitioner influencing the witness or the lady, the court granted bail to the petitioner and imposed various conditions on the accused-petitioner. The Court directed that:

“i. The petitioner shall appear before the Investigating Officer on every 2nd and 4th Saturdays, at any time between 10 am and 1 pm, for a further period of 3 months or till final report is filed, whichever is earlier.

ii. He shall not intimidate or attempt to influence the lady victim, witnesses; nor shall he tamper with the evidence.

iii. He shall not commit any offence while on bail. 

iv. The petitioner shall not visit or go anywhere near to the residence of the lady defacto complainant. 

v. The petitioner shall not reside or enter anywhere within the territorial limits of the Police Station where the lady defacto complainant is residing until the conclusion of investigating process, except for the limited purpose of reporting before the Investigating Officer concerned in this crime, or for attending to the Court in relation to this case or any other cases or for contacting his lawyer/advocate concerned. If the petitioner has any emergent personal need to visit the said area, he may do so but only with the prior permission of the investigating officer concerned.”[Vineesh v. State of Kerala, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 2408, decided on 29-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Rohit B. Deo, J. allowed a criminal appeal filed against the judgment of the Additional Sessions Judge whereby the appellant was convicted for the offence of committing rape repeatedly on the same woman punishable under Section 376(1)(n) IPC along with the offence punishable under Section 506 (criminal intimidation).

The case against the appellant was that he abducted the victim and subjected her to forcible intercourse multiple times. He was convicted as aforesaid and sentenced to suffer rigorous imprisonment for a term of 10 years. Aggrieved thereby, the appellant filed the present appeal.

F.N. Haidri, Advocate representing the appellant contended that even if it is assumed that there was sexual intercourse, it was consensual. Per contra, TA Mirza, APP appearing for the State submitted that the defence of consent must be rejected because the statutory presumption under Section 114-A of the Evidence Act is not rebutted.

On perusal, the High Court was satisfied that evidence of the victim was not of such sterling quality as would obviate the need to seek corroboration. Perusing further the facts and the medical and forensic evidence, the Court was of the opinion that there were many holes grey areas and it would be absolutely unsafe to base the conviction on victim’s testimony which was not corroborated. As far as defence of consent was concerned, the Court observed that the prosecution failed to prove the foundational facts. It was said: “The legislative intent is not that the accused must disprove the absence of consent beyond a reasonable doubt. It would not be necessary for the accused to adduce direct evidence to prove that there was consent or to disprove the absence of consent. The accused can rely on material brought on record in the cross-examination of the victim and the evidence of the other prosecution witnesses. In the present case, enough material is brought on record in the cross-examination of the victim and the evidence of the other prosecution witnesses to lend credibility to the alternate defence theory that the sex was consensual.”

The Court held that the prosecution failed to prove the offence beyond reasonable doubt and the gulf between suspicion and proof was not bridged. Consequently, the Court acquitted the appellant of all the offence and directed his release. [Mohan v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 1407, decided on 30-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: Sahidullah Munshi, J. allowed the appeal for the subsequent dates being asked for by the husband for the potency test but dismissed the appeal made by the husband for the virginity test of the wife as it did not appear to the Court a sound proposition of law.

In the instant case, two revision applications were heard together because the question of law and facts were identical. The suit was filed by the wife seeking annulment of marriage by a decree of nullity under Section 25(i) of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 and alternatively for divorce under Section 27(1)(d) of SMA. Wife filed an application, praying for the potency test of the husband and the same was allowed and on that basis wife pleaded that the marriage was not consummated, considering it a void marriage. The husband filed an application seeking a virginity test on his wife which was rejected. The husband appeared before the Medical Board for the said test and it was unanimously held by the Board that the party should be referred to FMS Department, Calcutta Medical College. The husband did appear before the Board but, he, later on, filed an application before the Court for subsequent dates for his appearance before the board.

The trial court rejected husband’s application seeking virginity test and relied on a passage of renowned author that stated “Virginity test is not a reliable indicator of a female having actually engaged in sexual intercourse because the tearing of the hymen may have been the result of an involuntarily sexual act”. The trial court further rejected the husband’s application for extending the date of potency test before the Medical Board finding him reluctant to appear before the Board.

Learned counsel, Dipanjan Datta, Sayan Datta and Rituparna Saha, for the petitioner, contended that since the wife has made allegations that the marriage was not consummated, she should be subjected to a virginity test.

Learned counsel, Ankit Agarwala and Alotriya Mukherjee, appeared on behalf of the opposite party contended that delay in the potency test would be a great loss to the wife.

The Court opined that the trial court was not justified in rejecting the prayer of the husband for extension of time when it was apparent that the result of the test was crucial and it would decide the fate of the parties. The application was to be allowed for the benefit of both the parties stating that delay in the test is a loss for wife, was not considered valid for refusing the application. Therefore, the revision application was allowed. The Court directed the medical college to allow the petitioner on a subsequent date but that shall be fixed within two months from the date of communication of the order and the petitioner was directed to communicate the same to the Superintendent of medical college. The Court did not find any irregularity or material illegality in the order passed regarding the virginity test. [Sri v. Smt, CO No. 3309 of 2018, decided on 21-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: Sanjay Karol, CJ, dismissed a criminal appeal filed against the decision of the Additional Sessions Judge whereby the appellant was convicted under Section 376 IPC committing rape on the prosecutrix.

The prosecution alleged that the appellant made sexual relations with the prosecutrix, who was of unstable mind, on the false pretext of marrying her. As a result, the prosecutrix became pregnant and she delivered a still-born child. It was alleged that the appellant was now refusing to marry her. The prosecutrix deposed before the Court: “he promised marriage to me and have sex. I became pregnant. He did not marry me.” The appellant was tried and convicted by the trial court as stated above. Aggrieved, the appellant, represented by Ratan Dutta and Simita Chakraborty, Advocates, filed the present appeal. Per contra, Babul Chaudhary, Public Prosecutor, opposed the same.

The High court was of the view that the present case attracts Section 375 (rape) read with Section 90 (consent known to be given under fear or misconception) IPC. The corollary deduced upon a conjoint reading of the sections was stated thus: “an offence of rape would be deemed to have been committed if a man has sexual intercourse with a woman without her consent. A consent obtained under the misconception of fact, would not amount to be a consent within the purview of Section 90 IPC.”

The Court relied on Kaini Rajan v. State of Kerala, (2013) 9 SCC 113Deepak Gulati v. State of Haryana, (2013) 7 SCC 675; and Anurag Soni v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 509, and held that “It stands established and proven that from the very inception, the appellant, by promising marriage, obtained consent to enter into a sexual relationship, though he never had any intention to marry and the prosecutrix who gave her consent for sexual intercourse with the assurance by the accused of marrying her. Such consent can very well be said to be a consent obtained on a misconception of fact as per Section 90 IPC and, in a case of such like nature, consent would not excuse the offender.”

The Court held the appellant guilty as charged and therefore dismissed his appeal while upholding the conviction and sentence passed by the trial court.[Marendra Debbarama v. State of Tripura, 2019 SCC OnLine Tri 257, decided on 27-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Bench of Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal, JJ. dismissed an appeal filed by the prosecutrix under Section 372 CrPC challenging the trial court’s judgment whereby the accused was acquitted of the charge of rape.

Simran Sadyora and Sanjeev Bhatia, Advocates, representing the prosecutrix, submitted that the trial court failed to appreciate that there is a presumption under Section 114-A of the Evidence Act as to absence of consent in a case for prosecution of the offence under Section 376 IPC and consequently the onus to prove that he had not committed the offence under Section 376(2)(n) had shifted to the accused.

At the outset, the High Court observed: “the presumption under Section 114-A of the Evidence Act would only be attracted if the factum of sexual intercourse is proved.” It was noted that the prosecutrix had refused an internal medical examination. the Court was also of the opinion that her testimony was highly unreliable, untrustworthy and inspired no confidence. It was noted further that the delay in registering FIR was not successfully explained. Also, she made 529 calls to the accused between the dates of the alleged rape and filing of the complaint. Her acts were inconsistent with her allegations. Moreover, the factum of sexual intercourse remained not proved. Keeping on view such and other findings, the Court held that the accused was entitled to be given benefit of doubt. Hence, the appeal was dismissed. [Rachna Singh v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine Del 8519, decided on 13-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Manish Pitale, J., reversed the judgment of the trial court where the appellant was convicted for an offence punishable under Section 376 IPC and sentenced to 5 years of rigorous imprisonment.

The appellant was accused of committing forcible sexual intercourse on the prosecutrix on two occasions by which she became pregnant. It was alleged that the appellant sexually abused the prosecutrix on a certain day, and after that again when the prosecutrix went to his home to watch television while he was alone. The said incidents were disclosed by the prosecutrix to her mother after she became pregnant, and an FIR was registered against the appellant. The appellant denied the allegations, but the trial court convicted him under Section 376. The appellant contended that the prosecutrix was pregnant with the child of her cousin with whom she stayed for 5-6 months. It was submitted that the appellant was falsely implicated in the case.

The High Court perused the record and found the conviction of the appellant to be unsustainable. It was noted that the conviction was based solely on the evidence of the prosecutrix. There were discrepancies in her statement. She told her mother that the appellant committed the act forcibly, while the doctor was told that it was committed on false pretext of marriage. Further, it was admitted by her that she had a cousin of same age as alleged by the appellant. In such circumstances, and on categorical stand of the appellant that he was falsely implicated, the Court held that the Investigating Officer ought to have conducted DNA test of the girl child born to the prosecutrix, for ascertaining her paternity. In absence of clear proof against the appellant, the High Court set aside the impugned judgment. The appeal was, thus, allowed. [Ganesh Pralhad Sontakke v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1795, dated 25-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: A Division Bench comprising of M.M.S. Bedi and Hari Pal Verma, JJ., allowed the appeal against the decision of the family court wherein appellant’s petition for a decree of divorce was dismissed.

The appellant (wife) was married to the respondent (husband). She alleged that the respondent habitually used to drink and beat the appellant; forced her to consume alcohol; demanded dowry from her; and even committed forcible sexual acts against her wishes including sodomy and unnatural oral sex. She stated that because of such circumstances, she was forced to live at her parent’s home since last 8 years. The respondent denied all the allegations and alleged that appellant’s parents are not letting her come back to their matrimonial home. He had also filed a petition under Section 9 Hindu Marriage Act, the fact which weighed with the court below to dismiss appellant’s divorce petition. The appellant was in appeal against the decision of the lower court.

The High Court was of the opinion that the appeal ought to be allowed. While considering facts of the matter, the Court observed, acts of sodomy, forcible sexual intercourse, and adoption of unnatural means which are forced upon the other spouse resulting in unbearable pain to the extent that one is forced to stay away would certainly be a ground to seek separation or a decree of divorce. The Court further observed that the burden of proving such allegations lied heavily on the appellant, and in the instant case, the allegations were corroborated with other material including testimonies of the appellant and her brother. In such circumstances, the Court held that merely because the respondent had filed a petition under Section 9 for restitution of conjugal rights, would not mean that he made a genuine effort for a reunion. The Court allowed the appeal dissolving the marriage between the appellant and the respondent by a decree of divorce. [Preeti Kumari v. Neelkanth Kumar,2018 SCC OnLine P&H 757, dated 01-06-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In order to harmonise Exception 2 to Section 375 IPC of the with the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act), the spirit of other pro-child legislations and the human rights of a married girl child, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ held that the Exception 2 to Section 375 of the IPC to should now be meaningfully read as: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape.” Both the judges wrote concurring but separate judgments.

Lokur, J, stating that holding sexual intercourse with a minor wife was the only way by which the intent of social justice to the married girl child and the constitutional vision of the framers of the Constitution could be preserved, said:

“Viewed from any perspective, there seems to be no reason to arbitrarily discriminate against a girl child who is married between 15 and 18 years of age. On the contrary, there is every reason to give a harmonious and purposive construction to the pro-child statutes to preserve and protect the human rights of the married girl child.”

Drawing an analogy between various laws land especially with POCSO Act, Lokur, J said that while the husband of a married girl child might not have committed rape for the purposes of the IPC but he would nevertheless have committed aggravated penetrative sexual assault for the purposes of the POCSO Act. He added that there is also no real distinction between the rape of a married girl child and aggravated penetrative sexual assault punishable under Section 6 of the POCSO Act. He said:

“marital rape of a girl child is effectively nothing but aggravated penetrative sexual assault and there is no reason why it should not be punishable under the provisions of the IPC.”

Gupta, J, on the question that whether the Court was creating a new offence, explained that the Court was merely reading down Exception 2 to Section 375 IPC to bring it in consonance with the Constitution and POCSO since the offence already exists in the main part of Section 375 IPC as well as in Section 3 and 5 of POCSO. He said:

“this Court is not creating any new offence but only removing what was unconstitutional and offensive.”

He also noticed that Exception 2 to Section 375 IPC was the only provision in various penal laws which gave immunity to the husband. He said:

“The husband is not immune from prosecution as far as other offences are concerned. Therefore, if the husband beats a girl child and has forcible sexual intercourse with her, he may be charged for offences under Sections 323, 324, 325 IPC etc. but he cannot be charged with rape.”

He further added:

“It does not stand to reason that only for the offence of rape the husband should be granted such an immunity especially where the “victim wife” is aged below 18 years i.e. below the legal age of marriage and is also not legally capable of giving consent to have sexual intercourse.”

The Court, hence, held that Exception 2 to Section 375 IPC was arbitrary, capricious, whimsical and violative of Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India. It was, however, made clear that the verdict will apply prospectively. [Independent Thought v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1222, decided on 11.10.2017]