Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of R. Banumathi and Indira Banerjee, JJ. while setting aside the judgment of the Delhi High Court which had reversed the conviction under Section 376(2)(g) recorded by the trial court stated that, “Even assuming that the prosecutrix was of easy virtue, she has a right to refuse to submit herself to sexual intercourse to anyone.”

The factual matrix of the case draws a picture in which it is stated that the present appeals came up on account of the Delhi High Court’s judgment which had allowed the respondents/accused conviction under Section 376(2)(g) IPC to be set aside. The prosecutrix alleged that when the respondents had demanded bidi from the prosecutrix and on her refusal for the same, she was raped by them, in which Respondent 2 was responsible for holding her hands and the other three men had committed rape on her turn by turn. On raising alarm in this situation, PW-3, i.e. mother of the prosecutrix saw those men coming out of the jhuggi while prosecutrix was lying unconscious.

Further, the charges were framed against the respondents under Section 376(2)(g) IPC to which they pleaded guilty. Respondents had submitted that prosecutrix was of bad character and was indulging in prostitution and on complaining about the same, the respondents were falsely implicated for the rape charge. The trial court had convicted the respondents under Section 376(2)(g) IPC but, further, the High Court had allowed the appeal against the trial court judgment by acquitting the respondent and directing to initiate action against the police officers concerned.

The Supreme Court on noting the observations and submissions and also the materials on record stated that, the trial court had rightly stated that “even if the allegations of the accused that the prosecutrix is of immoral character are taken to be correct, same does not give any right to the accused persons to commit rape.”

“Even in cases where there is some material to show that the victim was habituated to sexual intercourse, no inference like the victim being a woman of ‘loose character’ is permissible to be drawn from that circumstance alone.”

Hence, High Court erred in placing reliance upon the complaints allegedly made against the prosecutrix to doubt her version and to hold that a false case has been foisted. Further, the High Court was also not right in issuing the direction to lodge a complaint against the police officials, which was hereby set aside and the appeal preferred was allowed. [State (NCT of Delhi) v. Pankaj Chaudhary,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2256, decided on 30-10-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Madan B. Lokur and Uday Umesh Lalit, JJ. gave a cut off date for finalizing the “Standard Operating Procedure” for cyber police portal-handling complaints involving child pornography-child sexual abuse material, rape/gang rape, and obscene contents.

It has been stated that the Union of India has prepared SOP concerning the above-stated issue. The first version of the said SOP was prepared on June 18, 2018, and a revision followed on July 12, 2018. The comments and suggestion concerning the same are being received from time to time and this is a continuous process. In view of these improvements being a continuous process, Supreme Court finalised 15 November 2018 as the cut off date for the finalization of the SOP.

Further, the bench stated that the copy of SOP should be circulated amongst the intermediaries for the purpose of any suggestions, etc. before 9 November 2018 to Ministry of Home Affairs. Union of India has been directed to file an affidavit indicating the number of complaints received an the action been taken for the same.

The matter has been further listed for 22-11-2018. [Prajwala Letter Dated 18.2.2015 Videos of Sexual Violence and Recommendations, In Re, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 2111Order dated 22-10-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ., while delivering an order in concerning the extremely disturbing “Bihar Shelter Home Rape case” highlighted few significant pointers to be noted by the CBI in their investigation along with the removal of blanket ban on media in regard to the reporting of the case.

The Bench on considering the status report filed by CBI in the Patna High Court, placed down a few pointers which needed to be looked upon carefully, which were as follows:

  • Mr Brajesh Kumar Thakur who is the in charge of Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti is a very influential person and that is the reason people in the neighborhood are scared to complain against him. CBI needs to look into the antecedents, connections, and influence of the person concerned.
  • Sewa Sankalp Evam Vikas Samiti has received for about 4.5 Crores from the State of Bihar over a period of ten years for their activities. It is necessary that the IT department should look into the income and assets of Mr Brajesh Thakur and indeed of the NGO.
  • The next pointer to the list was that the Status report states the transfer of some girls by the Social Welfare Department from the Shelter Home. The transfer indicates that the Social Welfare Department was aware of the unsavoury activities in the Shelter Home and that may have been the reason for the transfer of the victims. Therefore, in this regard, CBI should seize the record of the said department and further carry out the investigation. Court asked the State of Bihar to file an affidavit stating the reason for the transfer of those girls.

Further, the Court while removing the blanket ban order passed by the Patna High Court in regard to the media reporting stated that “Entire issue needs to be balanced and looked at in the broader view of the criminal justice and freedom of the press.” Therefore, the Court asked for the assistance of Press Council of India, News Broadcasting Standards Authority, Editors Guild and the Indian Broadcasting Federation.

Concluding the order, the bench stated that in the interest of all the victims of sexual abuse and violence, we restrain the electronic media from telecasting or broadcasting the images of the victims in morphed or blurred form also the victims should not be interviewed. The matter is listed for 04-10-2018. [Nivedita Jha v. State of Bihar, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1616, order dated 20-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Rajasekhar Mantha, J. allowed an appeal filed by the appellant against of the order of the trial court whereby he was convicted under Section 376 IPC.

The prosecution case was that the appellant had committed rape on the prosecutrix on the false pretext of marrying her. It was alleged that after the first occasion of sexual intercourse, the appellant promised to marry the prosecutrix to which she consented. Thereafter, as admitted by the prosecutrix, they remained in a love affair for 1 and half years where they cohabitated regularly. The prosecutrix had intercourse with the appellant on various occasions of her own free will. 15 days prior the complaint, they also tried to fly away but were caught by the mother of the prosecutrix. It was proved that the prosecutrix became pregnant and gave birth to appellant’s child. It was alleged that the appellant finally refused to marry her. Thus, the complaint was filed and the appellant was convicted as aforementioned.

The High Court perused the record and found that after the mother of the prosecutrix came to know about the affair on the night when the appellant and prosecutrix attempted to flee, she talked to appellant’s father. His father, however, refused to give consent to their marriage. The Court observed that the trial court ignored the fact that the prosecutrix continued to have sexual intercourse with the appellant of her own free will. It was never proved that the appellant, on the first occasion, did not intend to marry her. It was only the father of appellant who refused to accept her as the daughter-in-law. Consent of the prosecutrix for voluntary sexual intercourse, in this case, was obtained neither by fraud nor on a misconception of facts. Holding thus, the High Court set aside the order of the trial court and acquitted the appellant. The appeal was, thus, allowed. [Kalam Sk. v. State of W.B.,2018 SCC OnLine Cal 6548, decided on 20-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Arindam lodh, J. disposed of an appeal wherein the offence under Section 376 IPC was converted to Section 354 IPC.

The Appeal was filed by the appellant against the order of District Court whereby he was alleged for the offence of rape of a minor.

From the evidence presented by the respondent, it was clear that the appellant did not touch her vagina or any parts surrounding the vagina.

It was argued by the appellant that in order to attract the provision of Section 376 IPC, even the slightest penetration of the penis into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a woman was enough to constitute the offence under Section 376 of IPC. Taking the deposition of the mother of the respondent into consideration it was clear that, the time gap between the cry for help of the respondent and her mother reaching the place on hearing the same was insufficient to commit the alleged offence. Also during examination-in-chief under Section 161 CrPC, the wearing apparels of the respondent were not ceased neither she was forwarded to record her judicial confession under Section 164(5) CrPC which further weakens her case along with the inference that her clothes were not torn out.

In light of the facts and the evidences stated, the Court established that this incident could be best described as “fondling” and the offence best categorized under Section 354 of IPC as already observed, the slightest penetration, whichever degree it was, an essential requirement vis-à-vis sine qua non to attract the provision of Section 376 of IPC. Hence due to absence of any degree of penetration, the appeal was disposed of. [Nemai Dey v. State of Tripura, CRL A (J) NO. 23 of 2015, dated 06-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gauhati High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising Mir Alfaz Ali, J., allowed an appeal as it was unable to persuade itself to sustain the conviction and sentence of the appellant.

The petition was filed by the appellant who was charged under Section 376 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 for rape of the respondent.

The respondent’s claim that she was tied and raped in the same room where the other family members were also sleeping appeared to be absurd and unbelievable. Also, there were discrepancies in the oral testimony of the respondent’s family which further failed to secure their claim.

What was evident from the two medical documents submitted was that they were contradictory, as the first issued at the time of discharge of the victim did not disclose any injury on the private part whereas the subsequent report explained the reason of injuries to be a self-inflicted one with no marks of violence in addition to the fact that the clothing of the respondent was intact at the time of medical examination.

The Court highlighted that when the offence alleged to have been committed by the appellant was serious and grave one, providing for severe punishment, prosecution must provide greater assurance to the court by the strictest degree of proof that the case has been proved beyond all reasonable doubt.

Hence the conviction and sentence of the appellant were set aside.[Ganesh Das v. State of Assam, 2018 SCC OnLine Gau 949, order dated 16-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench comprising of J.K.Maheshwari and Akhil Kumar Srivastava, JJ., addressed the issue of rape and murder of a minor girl to see if capital punishment of death penalty could be imposed upon the accused.

Accused in this case was alleged under Sections 376A, 302, 342, 201/511of IPC. He raped a minor girl aged 12-year old after which the girl died. The court had no doubt as to the commission of rape by the accused as many people witnessed the accused running away from the hut where the girl was found dead. The post-mortem report confirmed rape but the reason for her death was stated to be asphyxia. Trial Court observed that the case was proved beyond reasonable doubt. While sentencing accused, Trial Court took aid under Section 42 of POCSO Act as the victim was a minor girl. Stating instant case as rarest of rare case capital punishment of death was awarded.

The appeal went before High Court where the question of whether it was a “rarest of the rare case” was to be decided. Court referred various judgments of Apex Court to understand “rarest of the rare case” and on perusing the aggravating and mitigating circumstances court was of the view that the instant case would not come under “rarest of the rare case”. Therefore, Court set aside the capital punishment given for the offence under Section 376A of the I.P.C. [Sunil Adiwasi v. State of M.P., Criminal Appeal No.5015 of 2018, dated 17-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of R.K. Deshpande and Arun D. Upadhye, JJ., addressed a petition filed challenging the order of a Divisional Commissioner, Amravati on refusal to grant parole on the basis of Rule 4(b)(13) read with Rule (2)(B)(i) of Maharashtra Prisons (Bombay Furlough an Parole) Rules, 1959. The Court placed this matter before Chief Justice to be referred to a larger bench.

The present petition pertained to the facts that the petitioner was a convict for the offence under Section 376 IPC for the offence of rape. The sentence imposed upon him was of 10 years imprisonment under Section 376(2)(a) and 1-year imprisonment under Section 342 IPC. Petitioner was refused a parole. Though he was recommended for the same by the authorities due to the bar under  Rule 4(b)(13) read with Rule (2)(B)(i) of Maharashtra Prisons (Bombay Furlough an Parole) Rules, 1959, he was refused parole.

The Learned APP on behalf of the respondents relied on Sharad Devaram Shelake v. State of Maharashtra, 2016 SCC OnLine Bom 2448, wherein the above-stated rule was upheld. The division bench in the above-stated case had relied upon the decision of Supreme Court in State of Haryana v. Jai Singh,(2003) 9 SCC 114, wherein it was held, “Classification created for imposing bar to grant parole or furlough, based on the nature of offences, is a valid classification for the purpose of deciding whether the persons who have committed such offences should be granted remission or not.”

On due consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case along with the contentions placed, the Court was of the view that the matter should be referred to larger bench instead of making out a distinction between the decision of State of Haryana v. Jai Singh,(2003) 9 SCC 114 and Sharad Devaram Shelake v. State of Maharashtra, 2016 SCC OnLine Bom 2448.

Therefore, the Court referred the case to a larger bench for the consideration of the issue: “Whether Rule 4(13) Maharashtra prisons (Bombay Furlough and Parole) Rules, 1959 creating an absolute bar to claim release on furlough leave and consequently Rule 19(2)(B)(i) of the Rules of 1959 to claim release on parole leave to the convict for the offence of rape is violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India, particularly when the offenders in other serious offences are entitled to such leave?” [Vijay Pralhad Varankar v. Division Commr., Amravati;2018 SCC OnLine Bom 2261; dated 23-08-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Vipin Sanghi and I.S. Mehta, JJ. modified the sentence of the appellant convicted under Sections 363, 376(2)(i) and 506 IPC along with Sections 5(m) and 6 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

The appellant was accused of convicting rape upon a 9 years old girl. He was driver of the school transport facility availed by the girl. The trial court convicted him of the offences mentioned above and he was sentenced to life imprisonment under Section 376(2)(i) along with sentences for other offences. Aggrieved by the same, the appellant filed the instant appeal.

The High Court rejected all his submissions against the judgment of conviction by the trial court. The Court, on perusal of the facts, held that there was no merit in submission of the appellant that identity of the perpetrator of the crime was in doubt. The prosecution evidence was sufficient to bring home the guilt of the accused. Contentions were also raised regarding the sentence awarded. It was submitted that the appellant was 42 years of age and had a family of four minor children and a wife. The Court referred to its previous judgments and reiterated the parameters for assessing the quantum of punishment in cases of rape upon a child which include, inter alia:

  • Criminal and crime, both are important for purpose of sentencing;
  • Manner of commission of crime is to be considered;
  • Violence, if any accompanying the crime;
  • Whether the offender was in a position of fiduciary trust or exploited a social or family relationship;
  • Impact of the crime on victim;
  • Antecedents of the offender;
  • Passage of time since offence committed;
  • Rehabilitation of the rape victim; etc.

Taking into account all the facts and circumstances of the case and judging them on the aforementioned parameters, the Court was of the view that interest of justice would be met if the sentence of the convict-appellant awarded for the offence punishable under Section 376(2)(i) was reduced from imprisonment for rest of his life to 16 years rigorous imprisonment without remission. Sentence qua other offences was ordered to remain unaltered. The appeal was disposed of in the terms above. [Om Prakash v. State of Delhi,2018 SCC OnLine Del 10732, dated 21-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Mukta Gupta, J. allowed a criminal appeal filed against the order of the trial court wherein the appellant was convicted for the offences punishable under Sections 363, 366, 342 and 376 IPC.

The appellant-accused was alleged to have kidnapped the prosecutrix and raped her due to which she became pregnant. It was alleged by the prosecutrix that she was below the age of 16 years in 2012 when she was kidnapped by the appellant. It was the case of the prosecution that the appellant was known to the family of the prosecutrix; he kidnapped her and committed rape on her. The appellant denied the charges. He was, however, convicted by the trial court as aforementioned. Aggrieved thus, the appellant filed the present appeal.

The High Court perused the record and found that according to the medical report, she had sexual intercourse even earlier to the alleged kidnapping. Furthermore, as per the defence witness Onkar Singh, Head Master of the school where the prosecutrix was first admitted, prosecutrix’ date of birth was 1-9-1995. This meant that she was more than 16 years of age at the time of the alleged incident. Therefore, as per the law in force at the time of alleged incident, the prosecutrix was capable of consenting to sexual intercourse. The prosecutrix stated that she came to know of her pregnancy in March 2012; whereas, the medical report proved that the foetus was conceived only in April. In such facts and circumstances, the Court was of the view that the defence taken by the appellant that he was falsely implicated in the case by the father of the prosecutrix on coming to know of her pregnancy was a plausible defence. The case put forth by the complainant-father was held to be a cooked up story. Resultantly, the appeal was allowed; the order impugned was set aside, and the appellant was acquitted of the charges as framed. [Jitender Singh v. State (NCT of Delhi),2018 SCC OnLine Del 10632, dated 17-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Manish Pitale, J., reversed the judgment of the trial court where the appellant was convicted for an offence punishable under Section 376 IPC and sentenced to 5 years of rigorous imprisonment.

The appellant was accused of committing forcible sexual intercourse on the prosecutrix on two occasions by which she became pregnant. It was alleged that the appellant sexually abused the prosecutrix on a certain day, and after that again when the prosecutrix went to his home to watch television while he was alone. The said incidents were disclosed by the prosecutrix to her mother after she became pregnant, and an FIR was registered against the appellant. The appellant denied the allegations, but the trial court convicted him under Section 376. The appellant contended that the prosecutrix was pregnant with the child of her cousin with whom she stayed for 5-6 months. It was submitted that the appellant was falsely implicated in the case.

The High Court perused the record and found the conviction of the appellant to be unsustainable. It was noted that the conviction was based solely on the evidence of the prosecutrix. There were discrepancies in her statement. She told her mother that the appellant committed the act forcibly, while the doctor was told that it was committed on false pretext of marriage. Further, it was admitted by her that she had a cousin of same age as alleged by the appellant. In such circumstances, and on categorical stand of the appellant that he was falsely implicated, the Court held that the Investigating Officer ought to have conducted DNA test of the girl child born to the prosecutrix, for ascertaining her paternity. In absence of clear proof against the appellant, the High Court set aside the impugned judgment. The appeal was, thus, allowed. [Ganesh Pralhad Sontakke v. State of Maharashtra, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1795, dated 25-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of B.R. Gavai and Sarang V. Kotwal JJ., addressed a Criminal Appeal by setting aside the order of conviction and sentence in view of considering the matter in the purview of ‘benefit of doubt’.

In the present matter, the Appellant was convicted under Sections 376 (f) and 302 IPC for committing the rape of a 6-year-old child and murder thereafter. In accordance to the FIR lodged by the victim’s father. The appellant was found to be sleeping beside the deceased. The deceased was found with blood and injuries to her private parts.

While noting the facts of the case, the High Court found that the post-mortem report states the final cause of death as ‘death due to shock due to vaginal and anal tear with multiple injuries over body’. Also, the fact to be noted that was found on during the medical examination of the Appellant was that he had no injuries on his person with no blood or semen on any of the clothing of the appellant. There was no evidence of semen or vaginal fluid been taken off by washing from the private parts of the appellant.

Therefore, the case of prosecution lied only in the arena of ‘suspicion’ and the chain of circumstances against the appellant seemed to be incomplete, which awarded the appellant ‘benefit of doubt’ by acquitting the appellant in the present matter. [Sandip Ramesh Gaikwad v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 2067, dated 06-07-2018]

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