Four months after Justice D Devadass of the Madras High Court referred the case of a minor’s rape for mediation between the victim and the accused citing religion and its capacity for reconciliation, another HC judge — C T Selvam — set aside the conviction, the seven-year jail term and the fine imposed on the accused.
Acting on an appeal filed by the accused, V Mohan, Justice Selvam also referred the case back to the same sessions court for a fresh trial.
Justice Devadass’s order on July 10 was also based on an appeal by Mohan, who was convicted and fined Rs 2 lakh by a Mahila Court in Cuddalore in 2014.
Mohan was accused of raping his 15-year-old neighbour, who then gave birth to a girl a year later.
He was convicted by the Mahila Court based on evidence that included DNA samples.
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In his second appeal on Monday, Mohan’s counsel said the girl was a “major” when Mohan had “consensual” relationship with her.
Although the prosecution submitted her school transfer certificate to substantiate that she was only 15 years old at that time and said that having sex with a minor was rape under the law, Mohan’s counsel questioned why the latest piece of evidence had not been submitted during the trial.
He said that submitting fresh evidence at this juncture was a “denial to have the right to cross-examine related witnesses.”
Accepting this argument, Justice Selvam observed that the trial court had only relied upon the oral submission of the girl that she was 15 when she was allegedly raped and that the court had failed to examine documents to prov e her age.
Asking the trial court to examine the fresh evidence about the victim’s age, the judge set aside the conviction.
He also set November 2 as the date for the trial court to take up the matter.
While directing the trial court to refund the fine and compensation sum that had been paid by the accused Mohan, the judge asked the matter to be reported back to the high court by December.
Reacting to the development, a relative of the victim said that they were once again being dragged into the legal battle.
“We have to fight it out as there is no other option. I wonder why the judge referred the case for a fresh trial when the high court is the appellate authority and has the powers to verify the documents proving the girl’s age within a week or two,” he said.
Mohan was not available for comment.