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"Convicting Someone By Holding Rape Victim's Statement To Be Gospel Truth Would Be Travesty Of Justice": Punjab & Haryana High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
6 Oct 2022 4:23 PM GMT
punjab and Haryana High Court, Further Incarceration, Violative Of Article 21, PH High Court, Grants Bail, NDPS Accused, Jail For Over 2.5 Yrs, Sandeep Singh @ Sonu v. State of Punjab [CRM-M-34488-2022 (O&M)],  Justice Vikas Bahl,

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that it would be a travesty of justice if the statement of the prosecutrix is held to be gospel truth and the Courts are bound to hold someone guilty just because there is an allegation by the prosecutrix.

"Though, it is a settled proposition of law that statement of the prosecutrix must be given pre-dominant consideration yet nobody in the civilized society can be implicated or held guilty just because there is a statement of the prosecutrix. The statement of the prosecutrix cannot be treated as gospel truth and the Court has to see that she is a witness of sterling quality," the Bench of Justice Surjit Singh Sandhawalia and Justice Jagmohan Bansal.

With this, the Court dismissed the appeal filed by the victim challenging the Judgment and order of the Additional Sessions Judge, Rewari acquitting an accused on the ground that the prosecution has failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt

The case in brief

The appellant/victim was engaged to the accused (an Indian Army Jawan) and the incident was said to have taken place after the engagement. According to the victim, on August 9, 2017, she met the accused (her fiance) after the permission of her family and the accused took her on his bike to Kosli road near a school where he did obscene acts.

According to the victim/appellant, she told the accused that she would not engage in physical relations with him till marriage, hearing this, the accused got angry and threatened to kill her.

The appellant returned to her home and on 12.08.2017 as well 14.08.2017, she received calls from respondent's mobile who threatened her to kill her. Finally, on September 18, 2017, she lodged an FIR against the Jawan/Accused under Sections 376, 354, 354-B, 506 and 509 IPC.

The trial Court framed different issues for its consideration and came to the conclusion that the prosecution has failed to connect the accused with the commission of offence and essential ingredients for proving charge against the respondent are not proved.

The Trial Court specifically noted that the respondent/accused did not meet the appellant/victim on May 31, 2017 and July 2, 2017, when the engagement ceremony was performed, and rather, they both met for the first time on August 09, 2017, i.e. on the alleged day of the incident.

Therefore, the Court concluded that it was not possible that a boy on his first meeting with his fiancee would commit acts as alleged by the appellant. Challenging the acquittal order and judgment, the appellant/victim moved to the High Court.

High Court's observations

The Court agreed with the findings of the trial court, however, noting that the trial court had opined that the statement of the prosecutrix must be given pre-dominant consideration to the Court, the High Court did stress that though it is settled proposition of law that statement of the prosecutrix must be given pre-dominant consideration, yet, nobody in the civilized society can be implicated or held guilty just because there is a statement of prosecutrix.

Going back to the facts of the case, the Court noted that the place of the alleged incident is a public place and it is surrounded by a hospital, police station, and busy road thus, it was hard to believe that a person, who is working with the Indian Army would commit an alleged act at a public place and with a girl to whom he is engaged and has met for the first time.

Regarding the allegations of receiving threatening calls from the accused, the Court noted that as per the electronic record, it was the appellant/victim who called not once but a number of times to the respondent.

Further, taking into account the facts of the case, the High Court observed that the engagement was broken between them on August 9, 2017, and the appellant called the respondent between 10.08.2017 to 14.08.2017, thus, there was no question of threatening by the respondent on 12.08.2017 and 14.08.2017.

The Court further noted that had the appellant been scared and suffered from the alleged incident, she must have not called the respondent.

"It seems that she attempted to continue in her effort that the nuptial knot is tied because the respondent was not interested to marry her which is evident from the fact that he was not present even at the time of engagement and most of the calls were made by the appellant to the respondent and not vice versa," the Court observed as it agreed with the findings of the trial court and upheld its acquittal order.

Case title - X v. State of Haryana and Others

Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (PH) 265

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