Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
Top Stories

"Perverse": Supreme Court Sets Aside HC Order Discharging Rape Accused On Sole Ground Of Delay In Lodging FIR

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
18 Aug 2022 7:21 AM GMT
Perverse: Supreme Court Sets Aside HC Order Discharging Rape Accused On Sole Ground Of Delay In Lodging FIR
x

The Supreme Court recently set aside a judgment of the Madhya Pradesh High Court which discharged a rape accused on the ground of delay in the registration of the First Information Report (FIR).

The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and JB Pardiwala observed that the High Court judgment is perverse and utterly incomprehensible.

"..The impugned order of the High Court is utterly incomprehensible. We have yet to come across a case where the High Court has thought fit to discharge an accused charged with the offence of rape on the ground of delay in the registration of the FIR.", the bench remarked.

In this case, a girl committed suicide out of shame as she had delivered an illegitimate child conceived through the accused. An FIR was registered under Sections 376 and 306 of the IPC and Sections 5 and 6 of the POCSO Act and a Chargesheet was filed. The Special Court framed charge against the accused. To allow the revision petition filed by the accused, the Madhya Pradesh High Court noted that the deceased at the time of death had eight months pregnancy but FIR and complaint to the police was not made in time. "Even in the life time of the deceased she did not approach the police. The story as narrated by the mother of the deceased seems to be doubtful on the ground of delay.", it was observed in the order discharging the accused. This order was challenged before the Apex Court by the father of the victim girl.

"The High Court thought fit to discharge the accused of all the charges on the ground that there was delay in lodging the FIR and the entire case put up by the parents of the deceased was doubtful. At the cost of repetition, we state that the impugned order of the High Court is utterly incomprehensible. We have yet to come across a case where the High Court has thought fit to discharge an accused charged with the offence of rape on the ground of delay in the registration of the FIR.", the bench remarked.

The court added that although it is open to a High Court entertaining a petition under Section 482 of the CrPC or a revision application under Section 397 of the CrPC to quash the charges framed by the trial court, yet the same cannot be done by weighing the correctness or sufficiency of the evidence.

"In a case praying for quashing of the charge, the principle to be adopted by the High Court should be that if the entire evidence produced by the prosecution is to be believed, would it constitute an offence or not. The truthfulness, the sufficiency and acceptability of the material produced at the time of framing of a charge can be done only at the stage of trial. To put it more succinctly, at the stage of charge the Court is to examine the materials only with a view to be satisfied that prima facie case of commission of offence alleged has been made out against the accused person. It is also well settled that when the petition is filed by the accused under Section 482 CrPC or a revision Petition under Section 397 read with Section 401 of the CrPC seeking for the quashing of charge framed against him, the Court should not interfere with the order unless there are strong reasons to hold that in the interest of justice and to avoid abuse of the process of the Court a charge framed against the accused needs to be quashed. Such an order can be passed only in exceptional cases and on rare occasions. It is to be kept in mind that once the trial court has framed a charge against an accused the trial must proceed without unnecessary interference by a superior court and the entire evidence from the prosecution side should be placed on record. Any attempt by an accused for quashing of a charge before the entire prosecution evidence has 19 come on record should not be entertained sans exceptional cases. [see State of Delhi v. Gyan Devi, (2000) 8 SCC 239]"

The bench observed that the object of Section 397 CrPC is to set right a patent defect or an error of jurisdiction or law or the perversity which has crept in the proceeding. The court said:

At the stage of framing of a charge, the court is concerned not with the proof of the allegation rather it has to focus on the material and form an opinion whether there is strong suspicion that the accused has committed an offence, which if put to trial, could prove his guilt. The framing of charge is not a stage, at which stage the final test of guilt is to be applied. Thus, to hold that at the stage of framing the charge, the court should form an opinion that the accused is certainly guilty of committing an offence, is to hold something which is neither permissible nor is in consonance with the scheme of Code of Criminal Procedure.

While allowing the appeal and taking note of the fact that the State did not challenge the impugned judgment, the bench observed:

One another disturbing feature of this litigation is that it is the unfortunate father of the deceased who had to come before this Court seeking justice. It was expected of the State to challenge the illegal order passed by the High Court. Barring a few exceptions, in criminal matters the party who is treated as the aggrieved party is the State which is the custodian of the social interests of the community at large and so it is for the State to take all the steps necessary for bringing the person who has acted against the social interests of the community to book [see Thakur Ram and others v. State of Bihar (1966) Cri LJ 700)]. Yet one another disturbing feature is that the trial court thought fit not to frame charge against the accused for the alleged offence punishable under 25 Section 306 of the IPC i.e. abetment to the commission of suicide. Unfortunately, no one has questioned that part of the order of the trial court declining to frame charge for the alleged offence of abetting the commission of suicide punishable under Section 306 of the IPC. In such circumstances, we do not say anything further in this regard

[AoR for petitioner, Mr. Siddharth Singh; AoR for respondent, Mr. Swarnendu Chatterjee; AoR for State of MP, Mr. Sunny Choudhary]

Case details

X vs Amit Kumar Tiwari | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 681 | CrA 1210 OF 2022 | 12 August 2022 | Justices DY Chandrachud and JB Pardiwala

Headnotes

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 ; Sections 397 and 482 - Although it is open to a High Court entertaining a petition under Section 482/ Section 397 CrPC to quash the charges framed by the trial court, yet the same cannot be done by weighing the correctness or sufficiency of the evidence - At the stage of charge the Court is to examine the materials only with a view to be satisfied that prima facie case of commission of offence alleged has been made out against the accused person - Once the trial court has framed a charge against an accused the trial must proceed without unnecessary interference by a superior court and the entire evidence from the prosecution side should be placed on record. Any attempt by an accused for quashing of a charge before the entire prosecution evidence has 19 come on record should not be entertained sans exceptional cases. (Para 21)

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 ; Sections 397 - Scope of interference and exercise of jurisdiction - At the stage of framing of a charge, the court is concerned not with the proof of the allegation rather it has to focus on the material and form an opinion whether there is strong suspicion that the accused has committed an offence, which if put to trial, could prove his guilt. The framing of charge is not a stage, at which stage the final test of guilt is to be applied - The object of this provision is to set right a patent defect or an error of jurisdiction or law or the perversity which has crept in the proceeding. (Para 22-23)

Summary: Appeal against Madhya Pradesh High Court Judgment discharging rape accused on the ground of delay to register FIR - Allowed - Perverse and utterly incomprehensible - Unfortunate father of the deceased had to come before this Court seeking justice - It was expected of the State to challenge the illegal order passed by the High Court. Barring a few exceptions, in criminal matters the party who is treated as the aggrieved party is the State which is the custodian of the social interests of the community at large and so it is for the State to take all the steps necessary for bringing the person who has acted against the social interests of the community to book.

Next Story