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Friday, December 03, 2021

‘Clear case of consent’: In rape case of 16-year-old, Punjab & Haryana HC upholds acquittal by trial court

The case before the High Court dates back to September 2000. While the accused was acquitted by the trial court in February 2003, the state of Haryana had filed an appeal against it.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: December 12, 2019 7:28:15 pm
punjab news, Punjab and Haryana High Court, punjab rape cases, Punjab and Haryana High Court rape cases The 1997 observation had been made by the Supreme Court in the Partap Misra vs State of Orissa case, in which the prosecutrix was 23 years old.

IN AN alleged rape case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, while upholding the verdict of a trial court that had acquitted the accused — and relying on a 1997 apex court verdict in the context of absence of bodily injury — has said that she was more than 16 years of age at the time and “it is very difficult for any person to rape single-handed a grown-up girl without meeting the stiffest possible resistance from her”.

“From the evidence on record, it transpires that it was a clear case of consent,” the HC said in the verdict, adding there was no mark of injury on the girl’s body as per medical evidence and examination of her private parts.

The 1997 observation had been made by the Supreme Court in the Partap Misra vs State of Orissa case, in which the prosecutrix was 23 years old.

The present case before the high court dates back to September 2000. While the accused was acquitted by the trial court in February 2003, the state of Haryana had filed an appeal against it. On December 7 this year, the appeal against acquittal was dismissed by the court.

While the State had contended that the girl was less than 16 years of age at the time of occurrence and her consent — if any — would be immaterial, the division bench of Justices Jitendra Chauhan and Archana Puri in the verdict, while upholding the trial verdict, said that the birth certificates prove that she was 16 years and 3 months of age at the time of occurrence.

The court further observed that “mere presence of human semen on the swab, salwar and underwear of the accused” does not connect the accused with the commission of the alleged offence and prompt lodging of FIR is also “not an unmistakable guarantee” of the prosecution case.

“The prosecution case hinges on the testimony of PW-5, the prosecutrix, which does not inspire confidence of the court,” reads the verdict, adding that testimony of the witness who had seen the accused running from the place of occurrence would not be of much help to the prosecution and cannot be considered as relevant under the law.

According to the case details, on the evening of September 27, 2000, the girl was allegedly caught hold of by the accused who gagged her mouth with his hand and took her towards a cluster of trees. The girl was allegedly raped there while her mouth was gagged with her dupatta. The prosecutrix in her statement had said, “She resisted a lot but as the accused was quite stout she could not do anything to get herself released and as her mouth had been muzzled with her chunni she could not resist the claim.”

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