Accused charged for rape acquitted on the basis of “benefit of doubt” of prosecutrix being a consenting party

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Ranjan Gogoi, Navin Sinha, and K.M. Joseph, JJ., allowed an appeal and acquitted the accused-appellant for the offences under Sections 363, 366 and 376 IPC, on the basis of  “benefit of doubt”.

The accused-appellant was charged under Sections 363, 366 and 376 of the Penal Code by the trial court and further the High Court had recorded the order of conviction under the Sections mentioned above.

The matter favoured the accused-appellant as the evidence placed stated that the stand of the prosecutrix in regard to abduction and rape was different from her statement which was recorded earlier under Section 161 CrPC, 1973. It was also recorded by one of the prosecution witnesses that the prosecutrix stayed with the accused for about 2 days in Kullu and further until she was recovered she was in the company of the accused for 12 days and yet she did not complain of any criminal act against the accused-appellant.

On the analysis of the evidence the main question arose was that of the age of the prosecutrix, whether she was a major at the time of occurrence of the incident? For that, the prosecutrix failed to prove that she was a minor.

Therefore, the Supreme Court by stating that the “benefit of doubt” should naturally go to the accused in the present case on the basis of the above-recorded pieces of evidence and facts, held that the possibility of the prosecutrix to be a consenting party cannot be ruled out altogether. Hence, setting aside the High Court’s order, the accused-appellant was acquitted from all the charges. [Rajak Mohammad v. State of Himachal Pradesh,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1222, Order dated 23-08-2018]

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