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Having Been Caught Red Handed, Victim Tried To Blame Appellant: Orissa HC Acquits Man Of Attempt To Rape Charge After 30 Yrs

Sparsh Upadhyay
12 Dec 2020 4:09 PM GMT
Having Been Caught Red Handed, Victim Tried To Blame Appellant: Orissa HC Acquits Man Of Attempt To Rape Charge After 30 Yrs
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The Orissa High Court on Friday (11th December) allowed a criminal appeal filed 30 years ago and acquitted the appellant of the Charges sections under 376/511 & 354 of the Indian Penal Code. The Bench of Justice S. K. Sahoo was hearing the appeal filed by the appellant Satrughana Nag who faced trial in the Court of learned Additional Sessions Judge, Titilagarh in Sessions...

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The Orissa High Court on Friday (11th December) allowed a criminal appeal filed 30 years ago and acquitted the appellant of the Charges sections under 376/511 & 354 of the Indian Penal Code.

The Bench of Justice S. K. Sahoo was hearing the appeal filed by the appellant Satrughana Nag who faced trial in the Court of learned Additional Sessions Judge, Titilagarh in Sessions Case No.62/22 of 1989.

Background

As per the FIR, on 03rd October 1989 at about 9.30 p.m. while the alleged victim was sleeping with her younger brother on a cot in one room of her house and her elder brother and brother's wife were sleeping in the adjacent room, the appellant entered into the room where the victim was sleeping by opening the bamboo door of the victim's room, disrobed her saree and attempted to commit rape on her.

The Trial Court had held that the act of the appellant was definitely a step towards the commission of the offence of rape "though the penultimate act of thrusting his male organ into the private part of the alleged victim was not completed".

The Trial Court further observed that the act of the appellant did not stop at the stage of preparation but it reached the stage of attempt and his intention to commit the offence failed by the reason of the alleged victim's brother and brother's wife coming to the spot hearing the hullah of the alleged victim.

Accordingly, the Trial Court had found the appellant guilty of the offences charged.

High Court's Order

The High Court, in its order, noted that if the statement of the prosecutrix is found to be worthy of credence and reliable, then it requires no corroboration and the Court can act on such testimony and convict the accused.

The Court also remarked that Corroboration to the testimony of the prosecutrix is not a requirement of law but a guidance of prudence under the given circumstances.

In this backdrop, the Court noted,

"The victim's version in the Court was of rape but when it is compared with the one given during investigation, certain irreconcilable discrepancies are noticed. The evidence regarding actual commission of rape is at variance from what was recorded by police during evidence. Therefore, the victim cannot be said to be a truthful witness."

The offence of attempt to commit rape

Regarding the offence of attempt to commit rape, the Court said that in a given case, there must be material to show that the appellant "was determined to have sexual intercourse with the victim in all events and the overt act committed by him must show that it had gone beyond the stage of preparation and it reached the stage of attempt but his intention to commit the offence of rape could not materialise for some kind of interference."

In this backdrop, the Court noted - If according to the victim, after falling down from the cot, the appellant was pressing her hands with his hands, it is obvious that in such position her mouth was open and there was no difficulty on her part to raise a shout.

While analysing the pieces of evidence presented on the record, the Court said that there were many opportunities for the victim to raise shout and protest but she did not do that.

The Court further held,

"The Victim's conduct and her late reaction in raising shout probably on the arrival of her brother makes it clear that she was a consenting party and after having been caught red-handed with the appellant in a compromising position inside her bedroom in the night by her brother, the victim tried to put the entire blame upon the appellant as perpetrator of the crime, in order to save her own skin among her family members as well as in her society."

In view of above-mentioned discussion, the conviction of the appellant under sections 376/511 and 354 of the Indian Penal Code was found to be not sustainable in the eye of law by the High Court.

Lastly, the conviction of the appellant under Section 457 of the Indian Penal Code was set aside; instead, he was found guilty under Section 448 of the Indian Penal Code.

While observing that the appellant had remained in judicial custody for more than seven months and keeping in view the fact that more than thirty one years have passed since the date of occurrence, the Court sentenced him to undergo imprisonment for the period already undergone by him.

Case title - Satrughana Nag v. State of Odisha [CRA NO. 128 Of 1990]

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