MP High Court Acquits Father Sentenced To Life Imprisonment For Daughter's Rape, Says He Was Roped In For Disapproving Of Her Conduct

Sebin James

2 Feb 2024 5:15 AM GMT

  • MP High Court Acquits Father Sentenced To Life Imprisonment For Daughters Rape, Says He Was Roped In For Disapproving Of Her Conduct

    In a rape case involving a father-daughter duo, Madhya Pradesh High Court has set aside the conviction of father by holding that the prosecution was unable to establish even the 'foundational facts' against him.The court also felt that it could place sufficient credence in the version of the appellant/accused that he was roped in for 'raising eye-brows about the conduct of the daughter' who...

    In a rape case involving a father-daughter duo, Madhya Pradesh High Court has set aside the conviction of father by holding that the prosecution was unable to establish even the 'foundational facts' against him.

    The court also felt that it could place sufficient credence in the version of the appellant/accused that he was roped in for 'raising eye-brows about the conduct of the daughter' who was allegedly in a romantic relationship with another boy. The father had remained in prison for almost twelve years since 21/03/2012 due to the rape allegations put forth by his daughter.

    “The prosecutrix could not withstand cross-examination. The story so narrated by her does not seem to be natural and it appears that the appellant was roped in because he raised eye-brows about the conduct of his daughter…”, the Division Bench of Justices Sujoy Paul and Vivek Jain observed in the order.

    As the star witness, the prosecutrix failed to demonstrate that her deposition was of 'sterling quality' as envisaged in Rai Sandeep v. State (NCT of Delhi) (2012), the bench sitting at Jabalpur added. Reading the inconsistencies in the statement of the prosecutrix in conjunction with the lack of support from other prosecution witnesses, the court noted that the lower court erred in passing the impugned judgment of conviction.

    In the cross-examination, the prosecutrix accepted that she slept in the same room as her five brothers and sisters before being taken away by her father. She even admitted that it's not probable that the rest of the siblings won't notice when something happens in that room. More importantly, she also acceded to maintaining a physical relationship with another boy along with whom the petitioner reached the police station to lodge the complaint against her father. Additionally, she also agreed that her father disapproved the relationship that existed between her and the boy. During cross-examination, at one point, she even said that she never had any physical relationship with anyone else except this boy.

    Pertinently, the doctors who entered the witness box failed to throw light on any external or internal injuries sustained by the prosecutrix as a result of assault. Moreover, even the grandfather, sister, as well as mother of the prosecutrix, were unable to support the prosecution version.

    In the judgment, the court also pointed out that there is no thread relation between the FSL report and the samples collected from the appellant. It's also unclear as to whether the seized material was the same sample that was analysed by FSL since seizure witnesses were not called for.

    The High Court also objected to a question recorded by the trial court under Section 313 Cr. P.C. which was in the form of multiple questions stacked together in one. This approach has been frowned upon by the apex court in Samsul Haque v. State of Assam (2019) wherein it was held that if the relevant circumstances are not put to the accused in his statement under Section 313 of the Cr. P.C, they must be completely excluded from consideration because the accused did not have any chance to explain them. 

    “…In our opinion, the question so put to the appellant was cryptic and was not in consonance with the scheme envisaged in Section 313 of Cr.P.C. Section 313 Cr.P.C. is infact a codification of principles of natural justice in a statutory form. The Court below in a mechanical manner framed the said question. The incriminatory portion of FSL report was not pointed out..”, the court noted in the order.

    Even presumption under Sections 29 & 30 of the POCSO Act cannot be drawn against the appellant since the 'foundational facts' are not established against the appellant, the court added.

    However, the court favoured the prosecution on the aspect of not conducting a DNA Test, and opined that no adverse inference can be drawn against the prosecution solely for that reason.

    The court accordingly allowed the criminal appeal filed under Section 374 of Cr. P.C and set aside the judgment of the Sessions Court. The trial court had sentenced the father to life imprisonment with a fine of Rs 10,000/- for offences under Sections 376 and 506 of IPC.

    Citation: 2024 LiveLaw (MP) 22

    Case Title: Pappu Alias Jalikh v. State of Madhya Pradesh

    Case No: Criminal Appeal No. 789 OF 2013

    Click Here To Read/ Download Judgment

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