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"Victim's Mother Told Her About What To Say In Court": Delhi High Court Sets Aside Conviction In Minor's Sexual Assault Case

Sparsh Upadhyay
6 Dec 2020 4:26 AM GMT
Victims Mother Told Her About What To Say In Court: Delhi High Court Sets Aside Conviction In Minors Sexual Assault Case
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While noting that there were material improvements in the statements of the child victim and her mother, the Delhi High Court on Thursday (03rd December) set aside the conviction of an accused in minor's sexual assault case. The Bench of Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri was hearing an appeal filed on behalf of the appellant-accused against the judgment whereby the appellant was convicted for...

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While noting that there were material improvements in the statements of the child victim and her mother, the Delhi High Court on Thursday (03rd December) set aside the conviction of an accused in minor's sexual assault case.

The Bench of Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri was hearing an appeal filed on behalf of the appellant-accused against the judgment whereby the appellant was convicted for the offence punishable under Section 6 of the POCSO Act and was sentenced to undergo RI for a period of 10 years.

The matter before the Court

The FIR was registered on the statement of the mother of the child victim. The child victim, in her statement recorded under Section 164 Cr.P.C., stated that on the day of the incident, the appellant pulled her and sexually assaulted her and she cried and her mother came.

The appellant was convicted for the offence punishable under Section 6 of the POCSO Act by the Special Judge: POCSO Act, Rohini Courts, Delhi and was sentenced to undergo RI for a period of 10 years along with payment of a fine of Rs.10,000/-, in default whereof to further undergo SI for 30 days.

Assailing the impugned judgment on the ground that the trial court failed to appreciate that the testimony of the child victim and her mother were not creditworthy as there were material improvements not only in the statements of the child victim but also, her mother.

It was also contended that the testimony of the child victim was also not creditworthy and admissible as the child victim was tutored.

Analysis done by the Court

The Court noted that a perusal of the statement of the child victim under Section 164 Cr.P.C. and her in-court examination would show that the child victim has slightly improved her version.

The Court referred to another aspect of the cross-examination of the child victim, wherein she had admitted that before coming to the Court, her mother told her as to what is to be stated in the Court.

The Court observed that while answering the Court questions, the child victim also stated that before being taken to the hospital, her mother had told her as to what is to be stated to the doctor.

To this, the Court said,

"The creditworthiness and the admissibility of the statement of child victim and her mother is under challenge not only on the aspect of improvements but also on the aspect of tutoring. It is no longer res integra that the sole testimony of a child victim, before being accepted should be evaluated very carefully. It should be devoid of any embellishment, improvement or tutoring."

Further, the Delhi High Court cited the Apex Court's ruling in the case of Mangoo v. State of M.P. AIR 1995 SC 959, M.P. v. Ramesh & Anr. (2011) 4 SCC 786, State of Madhya Pradesh v. Rajaram Alias Raja (2019) 13 SCC 516 wherein it was stated by the SC, time and again, that while dealing with the evidence of a child witness, the Court must determine as to whether the child has been tutored or not.

To this, the Court remarked,

"In the present case, not only there are material improvements in the statements of the child victim and her mother but there are also material contradictions as already observed. Furthermore, the child victim categorically stated that she was told by her mother about what to say in the Court."

In light of the above discussion, the Court opined that the creditworthiness of the testimony of the child victim was in doubt.

"It cannot be said with certainty that her testimony does not suffer from the vice of tutoring. The testimony of the mother of the child victim is full of material improvements", said the Court.

Also, the Court said, there was no corroboration in the form of MLC or the FSL. In these circumstances, the Court noted that the appellant's false implication couldn't be ruled out.

Court's order

Resultantly, the appellant-accused was granted the benefit of doubt and his appeal was allowed. The impugned judgment and order on sentence was set aside.

The appellant was directed to be immediately set free if not required in any other case. The appeal was disposed of in the above terms.

Case title - Altaf Ahmed @ Rahul v. State (GNCTD Of Delhi) [CRL.A. 474/2020]

Click Here To Download Judgment

[Read Judgment Here]


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