22 April 2022 9:13 AM GMT
The Meghalaya High Court upheld the conviction of a man for raping his minor stepdaughter as it noted that the confession of the accused as recorded in his statement under Section 164 CrPC had completely corroborated what the victim had to say.With this, the Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh also held that if the confessional statement fills up any lacuna in...
The Meghalaya High Court upheld the conviction of a man for raping his minor stepdaughter as it noted that the confession of the accused as recorded in his statement under Section 164 CrPC had completely corroborated what the victim had to say.
With this, the Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh also held that if the confessional statement fills up any lacuna in the prosecution case, the court can find the basis of conviction in such statement while relying on the overall evidence to satisfy itself that the confessional statement was relevant.
The case in brief
Essentially, the appellant (stepfather of the victim) had been convicted under Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 for having committed aggravated penetrative sexual assault on his step-daughter of 14 years and was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 20 years.
Thereafter, he moved to the Court challenging his conviction contending that the vague allegations of the alleged victim did not constitute any offence.
Referring to his own confessional statement recorded under Section 164 of CrPC, he argued that since the trial court did not go solely by his confession and instead, called for evidence to be presented, the evidence adduced on its own should have made out a case and since the same didn't make out a case, therefore, he was wrongly convicted for the offence.
At the outset, the Court found a justification in the decision of the trial court to call for overall evidence in the case, apart from the confessional state as the Court remarked thus:
"There is no doubt that in matters involving stringent punishments, trial courts do not go merely by the confessional statement of the accused and look at the evidence to otherwise assess the culpability of the accused. But that does not mean that the moment the trial court requires the evidence to be presented, notwithstanding the confessional statement of the accused, the confessional statement loses all value or effect. 5. Indeed, if the confessional statement corroborates the complaint or if such confessional statement fills up any lacuna in the prosecution case or the evidence in such regard, the court can found the basis of conviction on the confessional statement upon relying on the overall evidence to be satisfied that the confessional statement was relevant."
Further, referring to the facts of the case, the Court noted that though the victim complained of having been raped by the appellant several times since 2013, but, she only described the latest incident in March 2016 and, her narration of the incident was somewhat vague and lacking in particulars.
Despite this, the Court opined that since the victim was subjected to repeated sexual assault over a period of time and, considering the trauma that the obviously uneducated victim suffered, she may not have been able to describe the saga in any great detail.
Significantly, the Court further noted that the accusation of the victim was completely corroborated by the confession of the appellant/convict.
The Court also observed that the trial court, had not relied plainly on the confessional statement to convict the appellant, but went through the rigmarole of a complete trial to satisfy itself that the acts complained of had actually happened and, inter alia, the appellant had committed the offence he was charged with.
"Once the appellant's confession is read in the context of the allegations levelled against him by his step-daughter, there is little to detract from the step-daughter's version of things, notwithstanding the earlier incidents of rape having been a few years prior to the FIR being lodged within four days of the latest incident of aggravated penetrative sexual assault suffered by the minor victim," the Court further added.
Consequently, the court came to the conclusion that there was no infirmity in the judgment of conviction and that there was no doubt that this was a case of aggravated penetrative sexual assault. With this, the Court upheld that conviction order and Judgment.
Case title - Sparding Nongbri Vs. State of Meghalaya
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Meg) 13
Click Here To Read/Download Order