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Possibility Of A Relationship Gone Sour Cannot Be Ruled Out : Sikkim High Court Acquits Rape Accused

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
8 Jan 2021 4:41 AM GMT
Possibility Of A Relationship Gone Sour Cannot Be Ruled Out : Sikkim High Court Acquits Rape Accused
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The possibility of a relationship gone sour cannot be ruled out, the Sikkim High Court observed while it acquitted a man accused of raping a woman on the pretext of promise of marriage.On 10.01.2018, the victim lodged an FIR alleging that she was raped by the accused (Makraj Limboo) on 17.08.2013, due to which she became pregnant and had to abort the baby on his advice. It was...

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The possibility of a relationship gone sour cannot be ruled out, the Sikkim High Court observed while it acquitted a man accused of raping a woman on the pretext of promise of marriage.

On 10.01.2018,  the victim lodged an FIR alleging that she was raped by the accused (Makraj Limboo) on 17.08.2013, due to which she became pregnant and had to abort the baby on his advice. It was further alleged that he raped her again thereafter. The Trial Court convicted him under section 376(1) of the Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to undergo seven years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.50,000.

In appeal, Justice Bhaskar Raj Pradhan noted that there is an inordinate delay of five years in lodging the FIR and therefore it  is equally important to seek corroboration of what she deposed in court. "The court can, in a given case, rely upon the sole testimony of the victim if it is safe, reliable and worthy of acceptance and convict the accused. However, it is always prudent for the court to seek corroboration when the sole testimony is the only evidence available.", the court observed.

Referring to the records, the court said that there is a serious discrepancy in the FIR and the statement recorded under section 164 Cr.P.C on the one side and the deposition on the other. While it is important to be conscious about the trauma of the victim - a victim of alleged sexual assault, it is also important to be conscious about the well settled principle of criminal jurisprudence that more serious the offence, the stricter the degree of proof, the court added. While setting aside the conviction, the bench further observed:

"In the circumstances, this court is of the considered view that although the evidence led by the prosecution leads to grave suspicion that the appellant had in fact raped the victim, it would not be judiciously prudent to convict the appellant on suspicion alone. None of what the victim deposed have been corroborated even by her family members. The victim's version of rape is not corroborated, so is her version of pregnancy and abortion. There is evidence to suggest that the victim had been infatuated by the appellant and had expressed her desire to marry him. Some of the prosecution witnesses have deposed about their love affair. There is evidence to suggest that the victim had herself visited the appellant when he had an accident. The possibility of a relationship gone sour cannot be ruled out. Several of the prosecution witnesses had deposed hearing about their "physical relationship" and "sexual relationship", both of which would not amount to rape. In such circumstances, this court is also of the considered view that the appellant must be given the benefit of doubt."
Case: Makraj Limboo vs. State of Sikkim [Crl. A. No. 17 of 2019]
Coram:  Justice Bhaskar Raj Pradhan
Counsel: Sr. Adv N. Rai with Advocates Sushant Subba and Sushmita Gurung [Legal Aid Counsel], APP Yadev Sharma


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