24 March 2023 9:30 AM GMT
The Meghalaya High Court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of a former Meghalaya police officer on charges of molesting and raping two minors in Garo Hills, back in March 2013.A bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee, and Justice Mr. Justice W. Diengdoh observed while hearing the appeal against the POCSO court observed, "Two features that stand out and go some distance in...
The Meghalaya High Court on Wednesday upheld the conviction of a former Meghalaya police officer on charges of molesting and raping two minors in Garo Hills, back in March 2013.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee, and Justice Mr. Justice W. Diengdoh observed while hearing the appeal against the POCSO court observed,
"Two features that stand out and go some distance in establishing the appellant’s mental state and possible guilt. The appellant absconded for several months after the FIR was lodged and, according to the State, was apprehended close to a year thereafter. Here was a police officer who ran away from the law and had to be hunted out. A prudent person claiming innocence, in such circumstances, would scarcely have behaved in such manner, far less a police officer".
Decimating the insinuation of the appellant that since the survivors were apparently prostitutes, their version should not be accepted, the bench observed that the survivors in this case may have been of “loose character” or may have indulged in prostitution, would give no right to the appellant to molest or abuse them or, in any manner, insult the two girls.
Pointing out to the credibility that the trial attached to the statement of the victims the bench said that the girls do not appear to have had any axe to grind against the appellant herein and no motive was sought to be attributed to them for making false allegations against the appellant herein.
"Nothing in the material statements made by the two girls appear to be false or made with any ulterior motive or the like. Quite understandably, they may not have been altogether truthful when recounting what they may have been doing when they were apprehended by the police in Gasura Park; but that would not detract from the accusation made against the appellant herein or the manner of description of how the appellant committed the offences",the bench recorded.
Declining the contention of the appellant that he could question the minority of the victims in a POCSO at the appellate stage, despite not doing so before the trial court, the bench remarked that the appellant had accepted that the two survivors were minors faced the trial, including under the provisions of the Act of 2012, without any protest in such regard, and now it would not lie in his mouth to challenge the same.
Highlighting the statements recorded under Section 164 of the Code which were exhibited in course of the trial, and the deposition of the witnesses called by the prosecution,particularly the two survivors, the bench maintained that there could not have been any reasonable doubt as to the culpability on the part of the appellant considering the circumstances and the office that the appellant held.
Denouncing the attempt by the appellant to play the religion card, the court said that the appellant has not lead any defense to demonstrate that either his department or the local community bore any grudge against him, the appellant’s conduct in such regard is like the devil citing the scriptures and an act of utter desperation in the absence of any defence.
In view of the same the bench declined interference and upheld the conviction.
Case Title: Nurul Islam Vs. State of Meghalaya
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Meg) 14
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment