Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: While delivering the judgment in a case of alleged rape of a one year and three months old baby girl, Rajiv Sharma, J., for himself and Alok Singh, J. upheld the conviction and sentence of the appellant-accused, as awarded by the trial judge.

The appellant, tenant of the informant, was a convict under Section 376(2)(i) IPC and Section 5(m) read with Section 6 of POCSO Act. It was alleged that he took away the grand daughter (victim) of the informant (PW 1) on the pretext of buying her biscuits; and when the victim returned, she was crying and blood was oozing out of her private body parts. She was taken to the hospital and FIR was lodged with the police. The appellant was tried for the charges mentioned above. The trial court relying on the FSL report and considering the statements of prosecution witnesses held the appellant guilty and convicted him for the said offences. The appellant challenged the decision of the trial court.

The main ground for the challenge was that no semen was found on the vaginal swab of the victim and hence, the case against the appellant was not proved beyond reasonable doubt. However, the High Court rejected such contention relying on the Supreme Court decisions in Wahid Khan v. State of M.P., (2010) 2 SCC 9 and Parminder v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2014) 2 SCC 592, and observed that even slightest penetration is sufficient to make out an offence of rape and depth of penetration is immaterial. Further, the absence of semen in the vaginal swab and/or non-rupture of hymen does not dislodge a theory of rape. On the facts of present case, the Court held that though no semen was detected in the pathology report, yet the nature of injuries as shown by the FSL report and proved by the witness-medical expert; statement of PW 1 that found corroboration in the statement of PW 2 (mother of the victim), were sufficient to bring home the guilt of the appellant-accused. Holding thus, the High Court dismissed the appeal and upheld the order of conviction and sentence passed by the trial court. [Dal Chandra v. State of Uttarakhand,2018 SCC OnLine Utt 612, decided on 01-06-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab & Haryana High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Jaishree Thakur J., addressed an appeal challenging the judgment of the lower court in regard to the reduction of sentence.

The brief facts of the case state that the appellant was a convict under Sections 366 & 376 of IPC, for committing the rape of a 6 year old child. On recording of the statements of the accused under 313 CrPC all the allegations on his part were denied and he pleaded innocence. Appellant was acquitted earlier by the session’s court. However, on appeal, the matter was remanded back by the High Court after setting aside appellant’s acquittal. And thereafter, he was convicted as aforesaid.

The Learned Counsel for appellant by placing reliance on the various precedents submitted that his Right of speedy trial under Article 21 of the Constitution of India grants him the leniency and reduction of sentence awarded as he already has faced trial for 25 years.

However, the Hon’ble High Court on observing the above said facts and circumstances and the instance of cases given by the learned counsel for appellant in reference to the reduction of sentence, stated that “Rape” is a heinous offence which along with physical scars impact the mental well-being of the child equally and in a huge extent and manner. While stating the above-mentioned contentions of the appellant, Court also focused on a case of State of Rajasthan v. Vinod Kumar, 2012(6) SCC 770, in this case also reduction of sentence was demanded for an offence of rape and the accused was granted reduction of the sentence, though the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that “deciding the case in such a casual manner reduces the criminal justice delivery system to mockery.”

Therefore, keeping a sight of all the stated contentions and instances placed upon, the High Court dismissed the appeal of the convict finding no merits on the defence that he had put forward as the fact that the victim a 6 year old child was raped, the award of sentence of 10 years was rightly imposed in accordance to Section 376(2)(f) IPC. [Inder Sain  v. State of Punjab;2018 SCC OnLine P&H 797; dated 04-05-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The sentence of the appellant who was convicted for kidnapping and rape, was reduced to the period already undergone by him, by a Single Judge Bench comprising of K.K. Sonawane, J.

The appellant was accused of forcibly taking away the prosecutrix (victim), who was a minor at the time of incident. She was taken away on the pretext of marriage and the appellant had sexual intercourse with her a number of times during that period. The appellant was charged under Section 361 read with Section 363, Sections 366 and 376 IPC. He was convicted by the trial court for the offences charged under. The appellant challenged the order of the trial court.

On considering the record, the High Court found that at the relevant time, the victim was 14 years of age. It was proved by the School Leaving Certificate signed by the Headmaster of the School. The evidence led by the prosecution and the statement of witnesses proved that the appellant kidnapped the victim and therefore committed the offence under Section 361 read with 363 IPC. Further, the fact of the appellant having sexual intercourse with the victim was proved by the medical report. And since the victim was below 16 years of age, therefore, her consent doesn’t count and the appellant was guilty of offences under Sections 366 and 376. However, the facts remained that the victim never raised alarm as to her kidnapping, never informed or tried to contact her family, lived with the appellant as husband and wife, and also that the appellant was a youngster, 24 years old, at the time of commission of the offence. The High Court finally upheld the conviction of the appellant; however, his sentence was reduced to the period already undergone by him in light of the mitigating circumstances as noted hereinabove. Thus, the appeal was partly allowed. [Bapu v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 920, dated 03-05-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Hitesh Kumar Sarma, J., convicted the accused-appellant under Section 376(1) of the IPC, and made a correction by removing Section 8 of the POCSO Act as it was discovered by this Court that the victim was a major when the act of rape was committed upon the victim.

The brief facts of the case are that the accused/appellant had committed the offence of rape for which he was convicted by the learned Special Judge under Section 376 of the IPC combined with Section 8 of the POCSO Act. For the stated fact, an FIR was lodged and on receipt of the FIR, a case was registered under Section 376 of the IPC read with Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. The learned Sessions Judge framed the charges against accused-appellant under Section 376 and 511 of the IPC as well as Section 8 of the POCSO Act.

The fact that the accused-appellant had committed the offence of rape on the victim who was intellectually disabled was allegedly proved from the fact that when he was asked to appear for a village meeting in which on being asked about the incident, he kept mum and therefore he was sent to jail.

However, on perusal of the records, the High Court stated that if any meeting of such manner as mentioned above was even held, the extra-judicial statements that were recorded at the meeting were all without strong corroboration and cannot be relied upon.

Therefore, the Hon’ble High Court on noting the fact that the victim was a major when the incident happened, acquitted the accused of the offence under Section 8 of POCSO Act, and upheld his conviction under Section 376 IPC on finding him guilty on the basis of the testimony of the victim. However, since the incident happened before the enforcement of Criminal (Amendment) Act, 2013, the accused was sentenced under Section 376(1) and his sentence was reduced from 10 years to 7 years. [Lila Duwarah v. State of Assam, 2018 SCC OnLine Gau 551, dated 18-05-2018]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

High Court of South Africa, Eastern Cape Division: In a judgment delivered by Brooks, J. of the High Court of South Africa, while dismissing the appeal, held against a rape convict that the prescribed sentence of life imprisonment is not disproportionate to the crime, the criminal and needs of the society.

The complainant was a 16 year old boy who was raped by the appellant more than once. For the said crime, appellant was charged with rape in contravention of Section 3 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007. Appellant continued doing so without the complainant’s consent and will. Appellant was therefore, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, for which appellant preferred this appeal.

Court on analysing the evidence placed before it, convicted the appellant. Court noted the report of a social worker in which it was stated that the child after that incident had been suffering from flashbacks and nightmares along with lack of concentration in school which all has lead to an adverse impact on the mental health of the child along with physical health. Therefore, it was held that unless weighty justification exists prescribed sentence must not be departed for flimsy reasons.

Therefore, the Hon’ble High Court, by recording the significant point of appellant showing no remorse and the fact that the complainant suffered significant injuries causing pain and trauma, established that the trial Judge was correct in concluding that “there is nothing in the personal circumstances of the appellant that qualifies as a substantial and compelling circumstance.” The appeal was thereby dismissed upholding the sentence imposed by the trial judge. [Sikhumbuzo Xhaka v. State; Case No. CA144/2017; decided on 08.05.2018]

[Picture credit: Facebook/Deon Furstenburg]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sushil Kumar Palo, J. dismissed a petition after observing the factual and legal aspects, while referring to the essence of Sections 90 and 375 IPC.

The petitioner had been in contact with the prosecutrix through the social media platform “Facebook” since 2013, and eventually, the petitioner asked her to marry him. Rajeev Sharma, the petitioner, had after the fixation of marriage asked the prosecutrix for a physical relationship on the pretext of marriage. Once the marriage was fixed and physical relationship established between the two, he fled away right before the marriage was to take place. The complainant after a few months received a call from Rajeev Sharma asking her to come to Delhi and get married there.

On recording the above-stated facts and circumstances of the case, it is clear that the only want of the petitioner was to satisfy his lust which constitutes rape in this case, as the petitioner had promised marriage to the complainant but did not fulfill it. The Court, further taking an instance from the case State of U.P. v. Naushad, (2013) 16 SCC 651 observed that the consent in the present case was not “voluntary”, it was under the misconception of fact which certainly amounts to “rape”. The Court also concluded that the petitioner invaded the prosecutrix’s person by indulging in sexual intercourse in order to appease his lust. [Rajeev Sharma v. State of M.P.,2018 SCC OnLine MP 355, dated 27.04.2018]

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Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. DY Chandrachud and the newly appointed Indu Malhotra, JJ, stayed the trial in the Kathua gangrape and murder case till 07.05.2018, after being seized with petitions seeking shifting of the trial to Chandigarh and handing over the investigation to the CBI. Posting the matter for further hearing on 07.05.2018, the Court said that it will deal with the prayer of the victim’s father for shifting the trial to Chandigarh and the plea of the accused seeking handing over the probe to CBI.

During the hearing, the Court witnessed heated exchanges between Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the victim’s family, and advocate Harvinder Chaudhary, representing the accused.

Indira Jaising said that the case be transferred to Chandigarh due to proximity to Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and the incidents of obstruction of police personnel by lawyers of the local court. She said that attempts were made to intimidate the presiding judge of the court and the crime branch officials were heckled by the lawyers, as is evident in the affidavit of Jammu and Kashmir Government.

Harvinder Chaudhary, on the other hand, said that his clients do not have faith in police investigation and the probe should go to CBI. He alleged that the police was hand-in-glove with vested interests to falsely implicate the accused while the real culprits were someone else.

Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir, opposed the prayer for a CBI probe and said the SIT of the crime branch was investigating the case. He said that the trial could be shifted from Kathua and Jammu to some other district in the state as there were 221 witnesses and most of the statements recorded so far were in Urdu. It was also argued that Jammu and Kashmir has its own penal law and if the trial is shifted to Chandigarh, then it may create several problems.

Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh submitted before the Court that the Central Government was ready to provide any assistance if required but the call has to be taken by the Jammu and Kashmir government.

The Court had earlier given a stern warning and said it would transfer the Kathua gangrape and murder case from the local court in the “slightest possibility” of lack of fair trial, saying the “real concern” was to hold proper prosecution. It had also directed the State of Jammu & Kashmir to grant protection to the family members of the 8-year old girl, who had been brutally abducted, raped and murdered in Kathua district of J&K in the month of January 2018. The Court also directed that protection be granted to the Deepika Singh Rajawat, the lawyer representation the victim’s family, and one Talib Hussain, who has been rendering assistance to the victim’s family.

Source: PTI

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Self-styled Godman Asaram has been found guilty of the rape of a 16 year old girl in 2013 by the Special Trial Court in Jodhpur. He has been sentenced to Life Imprisonment. Of the five accused, three – including Asaram – have been convicted, while the other two have been acquitted. The 2 other associates of Asaram, namely, Shilpi and Sharad Chand, have, both, been awarded 20 years imprisonment.

Judge Madhusudan Sharma pronounced the verdict from Jodhpur Central Jail, where Asaram is currently  lodged,  as per the orders of the Rajasthan High Court. Section 144 has been imposed in Jodhpur city. This move was due to the fear of adverse reactions from Asaram’s followers, and a repeat of the violence that followed the verdict in another Self-Styled Godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim case last August.

[Source: Indian Express]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Considering the need for establishing a Central Reporting Mechanism in matters relating to cybercrimes concerning particularly those relating to rape, gang rape, child pornography, etc, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and UU Lalit, JJ asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to submit a comprehensive and detailed status report on progress made on the road map already indicated by the Government in the affidavit dated 1st December, 2015.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had submitted a brief status report that showed that the Government had committed itself to open the Beta version of the portal for online cybercrime reporting and that the public launch of the Beta version is expected in the last week of April, 2018.

It was also submitted before the Court that there are several other Ministries that are interested in similar issues such as Ministry of Women and Child Development. The Ministry of Electronics, Information and Technology is also interested in taking corrective steps in so far as cybercrimes are concerned particularly those relating to rape/gang rape/child pornography.

The Court, hence, said:

“It would, of course, be in the interest of all concerned if the Central Reporting Mechanism is set up.”

The Ministry of Home Affairs has been asked to file the detailed status report on the next date of hearing i.e. 11.05.2018. [In re: Prajwala Letter dated 18.2.2015 Videos of Sexual Violence and Recommendations, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 389, order dated 16.04.2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr. DY Chandrachud, JJ directed the State of Jammu & Kashmir to grant protection to the family members of the 8-year old girl, who had been brutally abducted, raped and murdered in Kathua district of J&K in the month of January 2018. The Court also directed that protection be granted to the Deepika Singh Rajawat, the lawyer representation the victim’s family, and one Talib Hussain, who has been rendering assistance to the victim’s family.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising had submitted before the Court that there was apprehension in the mind of the father of the victim, that there would be no fair trial inasmuch as there has been protest by the members of the Bar and further there may be issues relating to witness protection. She had told that Court that there should be protection for the victim as well as the lawyer who has a right to protect the interest of the victims in the Court.

On the demand of Indira Jaising, the Court also directed that the State authority should provide security in plain clothes. The Court also directed the State authorities to do the needful, keeping in view the spirit of the care and protection of Children, and strengthen the security at juvenile home where the alleged juvenile accused is lodged.

Earlier, the Court had taken suo motu cognizance in the matter and had issued notice to Bar Council of India, Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association, Jammu High Court Bar Association and Kathua Bar Association on a plea filed against the lawyers for allegedly blocking the filing of charge sheet in the matter and obstructing a lawyer from representing the victim’s family.

The Court will now take up the matter on 27.04.2018. [Mohd. Akhtar v. State of Jammu and Kashmir, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 386, order dated 16.04.2018]

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Supreme Court: Taking suo motu cognizance in the Kathua rape and murder case, the Court has issued notice to Bar Council of India, Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association, Jammu High Court Bar Association and Kathua Bar Association on a plea filed against the lawyers for allegedly blocking the filing of charge sheet in the matter and obstructing a lawyer from representing the victim’s family

Earlier this week, lawyers held a protest against the charge sheet filed against seven people accused of kidnapping, raping and killing an eight-year-old girl in January. The Bar Association of Jammu reportedly supported the lawyers and also organised a strike against the FIR.

The Bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra said that it is impermissible under law and ethics to prevent the filing of a chargesheet or oppose the representation of the victim’s family by a lawyer.

In the horrific Kathua case, an 8-year-old girl was held captive, sedated and raped for several days at a temple before she was murdered in Kathua district.

The Court will now hear the matter on April 19.

Source: ANI

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Supreme Court: The 3-judge Bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr. DY Chandrachud, JJ agreed to hear the plea for CBI probe into the Unnao gangrape case allegedly involving a BJP lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh. The hearing will take place next week.

The plea had also alleged that the rape victim’s father was tortured and killed in the police custody at the behest of the “ruling party” in the state on April 9. Referring to the victim’s statement, the petition also alleged that sitting BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar from Bangarmau constituency in Unnao district was the main accused in cases of the girl’s rape in July last year and custodial death of her father after her protest against the legislator.

The public interest petition also sought protection and compensation to the victims’ kin, as was provided in the Nirbhaya gangrape case.

Source: PTI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In order to harmonise Exception 2 to Section 375 IPC of the with the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act), the spirit of other pro-child legislations and the human rights of a married girl child, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ held that the Exception 2 to Section 375 of the IPC to should now be meaningfully read as: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape.” Both the judges wrote concurring but separate judgments.

Lokur, J, stating that holding sexual intercourse with a minor wife was the only way by which the intent of social justice to the married girl child and the constitutional vision of the framers of the Constitution could be preserved, said:

“Viewed from any perspective, there seems to be no reason to arbitrarily discriminate against a girl child who is married between 15 and 18 years of age. On the contrary, there is every reason to give a harmonious and purposive construction to the pro-child statutes to preserve and protect the human rights of the married girl child.”

Drawing an analogy between various laws land especially with POCSO Act, Lokur, J said that while the husband of a married girl child might not have committed rape for the purposes of the IPC but he would nevertheless have committed aggravated penetrative sexual assault for the purposes of the POCSO Act. He added that there is also no real distinction between the rape of a married girl child and aggravated penetrative sexual assault punishable under Section 6 of the POCSO Act. He said:

“marital rape of a girl child is effectively nothing but aggravated penetrative sexual assault and there is no reason why it should not be punishable under the provisions of the IPC.”

Gupta, J, on the question that whether the Court was creating a new offence, explained that the Court was merely reading down Exception 2 to Section 375 IPC to bring it in consonance with the Constitution and POCSO since the offence already exists in the main part of Section 375 IPC as well as in Section 3 and 5 of POCSO. He said:

“this Court is not creating any new offence but only removing what was unconstitutional and offensive.”

He also noticed that Exception 2 to Section 375 IPC was the only provision in various penal laws which gave immunity to the husband. He said:

“The husband is not immune from prosecution as far as other offences are concerned. Therefore, if the husband beats a girl child and has forcible sexual intercourse with her, he may be charged for offences under Sections 323, 324, 325 IPC etc. but he cannot be charged with rape.”

He further added:

“It does not stand to reason that only for the offence of rape the husband should be granted such an immunity especially where the “victim wife” is aged below 18 years i.e. below the legal age of marriage and is also not legally capable of giving consent to have sexual intercourse.”

The Court, hence, held that Exception 2 to Section 375 IPC was arbitrary, capricious, whimsical and violative of Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution of India. It was, however, made clear that the verdict will apply prospectively. [Independent Thought v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1222, decided on 11.10.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ reserved the judgment in the issue relating to criminalising of forced sexual acts by the husband with his minor wife.

The Court was hearing the petition filed by NGO Independent Thought and Advocate Gaurav Agarwal, appearing for the NGO had contended before the Court that by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, the age of consent for sexual intercourse by a girl, which was earlier 16 years has now been increased to 18 years, however, exception 2 to section 375 of the IPC still retains the age of consent as 15 years, due to which there is a huge gap of three years in the age of consent for a married girl child and an unmarried girl. He added that if the object behind increasing the age of consent to 18 years in 2013, was that a girl below that age is incapable of realising the consequences of her consent, then marriage of girl between the age of 15-17 years does not make the girl mature enough, mentally or physically, for the purpose of consent.

Taking note of the argument, the Court had, on 01.09.2017, sought to know whether it can create an offence by striking down the exception 2 of section 375 of IPC which the Parliament has refused to do. It also showed concern over the fate of the children born from such marriages if the provision was struck down. [Independent Thought v. Union of India, Writ Petition(s)(Civil) No(s). 382/2013, order dated 06.09.2017]

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Supreme Court: Hearing the plea questioning the validity of a provision permitting a man to have physical relationship with his wife, even if she was aged between 15 and 18 years, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ expressed dismay over the prevalence of the practice of child marriage despite the existence of the Child Marriage Prohibition Act and said

“It is a hard reality and is unfortunate that most of the child marriages happening in the country are done by parents of the girl child. However, to this, there are odd exceptions when a minor boy and girl fall in love and marry on their own.”

Advocate Gaurav Agarwal, appearing for NGO Independent Thought, brought to the Court’s notice that by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, the age of consent for sexual intercourse by a girl, which was earlier 16 years has now been increased to 18 years, however, exception 2 to section 375 of the IPC still retains the age of consent as 15 years, due to which there is a huge gap of three years in the age of consent for a married girl child and an unmarried girl. He added that if the object behind increasing the age of consent to 18 years in 2013, was that a girl below that age is incapable of realising the consequences of her consent, then marriage of girl between the age of 15-17 years does not make the girl mature enough, mentally or physically, for the purpose of consent.

Taking note of the argument, the Court sought to know whether it can create an offence by striking down the exception 2 of section 375 of IPC which the Parliament has refused to do. It also showed concern over the fate of the children born from such marriages if the provision was struck down.

The Centre, on the other hand, had contended that child marriage were still happening in the country due to uneven economic and educational development and it has been, therefore, decided to retain the age of 15 years under exception 2 of section 375 of IPC, so as to give protection to husband and wife against criminalising the sexual activity between them.

The next date of hearing on the matter is 05.09.2017.

Source: PTI

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On 28.08.2017, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in it’s press release, notified that the Special Judge Jagdeep Singh for CBI Cases, Panchkula(Haryana), after finding Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty U/s 376 & 506 of IPC on 25.08.2017, was sentenced to undergo 20 years rigorous imprisonment for sexual exploitation of two Sadhvis at Dera Sacha Sauda. A fine of Rs. 30, 20, 000 was also imposed upon him. Below is the table showing the break down of the cumulative punishment:

Victim- A For offence u/s 376 of IPC Rigorous Imprisonment for 10 years along with fine of Rs.15.00 lakh (Out of which Rs. 14.00 lakh is to be paid to Victim-A as compensation). In cTWENTY YEARS RIGOROUS IMPRISONMENT AND FINE OF RS.30,20,000/-se of default in payment of fine, further RI of 2 years.
For offence u/s 506 of IPC Rigorous Imprisonment for 2 years along with fine of Rs. 10,000/-, In case of default in payment of fine, further RI of 3 months.
Victim- B For offence u/s 376 of IPC Rigorous TWENTY YEARS RIGOROUS IMPRISONMENT AND FINE OF RS.30,20,000/-Imprisonment for 10 years along with fine of Rs.15.00 lakh (Out of which Rs. 14.00 lakh is to be paid to Victim-B as compensation). In case of default in payment of fine, further RI of 2 years.
For offence u/s 506 of IPC Rigorous Imprisonment for 2 years along with fine of Rs. 10,000/-, In case of default in payment of fine, further RI of 3 months.

The CBI court also held that both the sentences will run consecutively i.e. the sentence with reference to Victim-B will start after the sentence with reference to Victim-A has been completed.

In the present case, CBI had registered the case against the Dera Chief u/s 376, 506 & 509 of IPC on 12.12.2002 after the Punjab & Haryana High Court had, on 24.09.2002, directing CBI to investigate the alleged sexual exploitation of Sadhvis at Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa by Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Head of Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa. The High Court had initiated suo motu proceedings in the matter after an anonymous letter, alleging the sexual assault, was sent to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

During trial, the prosecution examined 15 witnesses. The accused was also examined. Thereafter, one witness was examined as a Court Witness on the orders of the Supreme Court of India. The Defence examined 37 witnesses. The final arguments were concluded on 17.08.2017 and the accused was found guilty on 25.08.2017.

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Supreme Court: The Court asked State of Gujarat to file an affidavit with response to it’s question as to why the trial in the rape case against the self-styled Godman Asaram Bapu was proceeding at a slow pace. The Court has earlier, in April, asked the State to finish the trial in the matter in a time-bound manner.

The State had told the Court that the trial would very likely proceed in an expeditious manner and will be completed within 6 months and hence, there was no need to release Asaram Bapu on bail.

Two separate rape cases are pending against Asaram Bapu in the States of Gujarat and Rajasthan. His son Narayan Sai is also facing trial for allegedly raping a Surat-based woman who was his father’s disciple between 2002 and 2005.

Source: ANI

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Supreme Court: The bench of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak gupta, JJ has sought response from the Centre as to whether Parliament has debated the aspect of protecting married girls between the age group of 15-18 years from the forced sexual acts by their spouses and whether the court could intervene to protect the rights of such married girls who may be sexually exploited by their spouses.

The Court was hearing the plea that had challenged the constitutionality of the exception under Section 375 IPC which says the intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, is not a rape. NGO Independent Thought contended that the distinction made in between 18 and 15 is illegal and unconstitutional as a girl in the age group of 15-18 is not that physically developed and she is not capable of taking an informed decision or consent. It was argued that the Parliament cannot impinge upon Article 21 by allowing the girl to marry under 18 years of age and allowing her to get pregnant or have intercourse. Centre, however, responded by saying that all the aspects have been considered pragmatically by the Parliament and keeping the child marriage prevalent in some societies,  the age of 15 has been kept as a threshold.

The bench noticed that declaring the law unconstitutional may have some serious repercussions as there are cases when college-going teens, below 18 years of age, engage in sexual activities consensually and get booked under the law and the boy suffers even when he is not at fault. Similarly, when a girl, under 18 years of age, elopes and engages in consensual sexual activity, the male gets booked for rape. The Court, hence, asked the Centre to apprise it about the number of prosecutions under the Child Marriage Act for past three years in three weeks and listed the matter for hearing after 4 weeks.

Source: PTI

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Supreme Court: Hearing the appeal of a 10 year old rape survivor aggrieved by the order of a Chandigarh Court that refused to allow her to terminate her 26 week old foetus, the Court issued notice to the Centre and asked the Chandigarh Legal Service authority to get the girl examined at PGI Chandigarh.

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, allows the termination of a foetus no more that 20 week old. The girl who was repeatedly raped by her uncle, is in her 26th week of pregnancy. In such cases the Court, based on the medical report, weighs the risks on the life of the woman/girl if the pregnancy is allowed to be terminated or ordered to be continued.

The Court will take up the matter on 28.07.2017, after the Medical team at PGI Chandigarh has submitted it’s report.

Source: ANI

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench comprising of L.Nageswara Rao and Navin Sinha, JJ. held that in the absence of conclusive and consistent proof of circumstantial chain of evidence which lead to the only “hypothesis of guilt” against the accused then, only circumstance of last seen cannot be made basis of conviction.

In the case where the accused were charged with rape and murder of the deceased whose severed body was found on the railway track after she was seen in the house of one of the accused persons, the Gauhati High Court held them guilty for causing death in furtherance of common intention, under Section 302/34 and for tampering with evidences, under sec 201 of Penal Code 1860 and awarded life imprisonment for the same. Prosecution relied on blood samples, postmortem certificate and last seen theory to form chain of evidence.

The Court held that there exist no conclusive proof of corroboration of statement of investigation and the blood stains found on murder weapon couldn’t be established. The Court allowed the appeal and reversed the decision of High Court, stating that last seen together cannot be the only ground for holding accused guilty, a connectivity must be established, the circumstance of “last seen together” does not by itself and necessarily lead to the inference that it was the accused who committed the crime. It further stated that due to the lack of corroborative evidence the appellants are acquitted of the charges under Section 302, 201 read with 34 Penal Code 1860. [Anjan Kumar Sharma v. State of Assam, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 622, decided on 23.05.2017]