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]