Lack Of Injury On Rape Victim’s Body Is Of No Help In Determining Consent: Bombay HC [Read Judgment]
The Bombay High Court has overturned a 21-year-old trial court verdict and has convicted a 41-year-old man in a rape case of a girl in 1996.
In doing so, the bench comprising Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice VK Jadhav commented on the issue of absence of injury and inference of consent, observing, “Absence of any injury on the body of the victim cannot lead to a conclusion that she had given her consent and all that it indicates is that she did not put up resistance. Lack of any resistance or absence of injury on the body of the victim are of no consequence vis-a-vis the issue of consent.”
The court had been approached by the State of Maharashtra, challenging an order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Nashik in July 1997, acquitting one Macchindra Sonawane. He was 19 years old at the time of the incident and was alleged to have raped an 11-year-old girl.
The high court now disagreed with the trial court’s determination of the girl’s age as 16 years, asserting that the trial court had acted in a mechanical manner to arrive at the number. It, in fact, opined that the “trial court has erred and has acted in casual or cavalier manner in determining the victim's age to be that of a major”.
The court then ruled in the State’s favour, concluding, “In conclusion, we would like to record that after having gone through the entire evidence, both documentary and oral led in the course of trial, keeping in mind the fact that the victim was born in a family of abject poverty, no education whatsoever and had gone to the grocery shop owned by the father of the accused literally begging him for medicine for the headache for which she was suffering pain and the trauma that the victim must have undergone, the shame and indignity suffered by her…
“…Even though the incident took place in the year 1996, we remain with the fervent hope and confidence that protecting the confidence of the common man in the institution entrusted with the administration of justice is reaffirmed.”
The appeal was therefore allowed, and Sonawane was sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment.
The court further directed the Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority, Nashik District to locate the victim in the case and get an application from her under the National Legal Services Authority compensation scheme for consideration of payment of compensation to her.