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Thursday, August 05, 2021

Disclosure statement weak evidence, but gravity of offence & other factors have to be considered: Punjab and Haryana HC

According to the FIR, the complainant, who is the father of the victim, had told police that his daughter, who was a supporter of the farmer movement, was part of a group of six people that traveled from Bengal to Delhi in April, and the group including the accused, Sangwan.

Written by Jagpreet Singh Sandhu | Chandigarh |
July 6, 2021 6:01:35 am
An FIR in the matter was registered on May 9 at Bahadurgarh’s city police station in Jhajjar district of Haryana.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had recently dismissed the anticipatory bail plea of Ankur Sangwan — accused of sexually assaulting a woman from West Bengal at the Tikri border in Haryana in April — who was booked following a disclosure made by a co-accused.

“Although disclosure statement itself is a weak piece of evidence, but at the same time, when there are other factors involved, relief cannot be granted merely on the ground that the name of the accused has come up on the basis of a disclosure statement of the co-accused,” the bench of Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri said, as per the order copy made available Monday.

An FIR in the matter was registered on May 9 at Bahadurgarh’s city police station in Jhajjar district of Haryana. According to the FIR, the complainant, who is the father of the victim, had told police that his daughter, who was a supporter of the farmer movement, was part of a group of six people that traveled from Bengal to Delhi in April, and the group including the accused, Sangwan. They were going to Delhi by train. Thereafter, the girl stayed in a tent alongwith three persons — Sangwan, co-accused Anil Malik and Anuj Singh Chanaut. She later told her father that she was harassed on the train and later raped in the tent. She died of Covid on April 30.

The bench said, “Neither any medical could be conducted nor her statement under section 164 Cr.P.C could be recorded. However, during interrogation of other accused, namely Anil Malik, disclosure statement was made by him with regard to the involvement of the petitioner as well. Although disclosure statement itself is a weak piece of evidence, but at the same time, when there are other factors involved then a relief cannot be granted merely on the ground that the name of the accused has come up on the basis of a disclosure statement of the co-accused. Every case has its own facts, circumstances and are required to be seen in their entirety in a comprehensive manner.”

He added, “In the present case, one of the allegations against the co-accused namely Anil Malik was that he had made a video of rape for blackmailing the deceased girl and another fact has come to light that the petitioner alongwith other two co-accused namely, Anil Malik and Anup Singh Chanaut, had stayed in a tent alongwith the deceased girl. The co-accused has also stated…that the petitioner outraged the modesty of the deceased girl and helped the other accused in sexually assaulting and raping her. At the time of consideration of prayer for anticipatory bail, a balance has to be struck between the freedom of an individual and various other factors including the gravity of the offence, effect on public at large and the peculiar facts and circumstances of each and every case have to be considered.”

Citing the order of Supreme Court in the case of Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre versus State of Maharashtra and others (supra), wherein various factors and parameters were formulated which can be taken into consideration while dealing with anticipatory bail, Justice Puri held that, “the impact of grant of anticipatory bail, particularly in case of large magnitude affecting a very large number of people, is also to be considered. Furthermore, the court is required to consider reasonable apprehension of tampering of a witness or apprehension of threat to complainant”.

Thus dismissing the anticipatory bail plea of Ankur Sangwan, the judge said, “…The facts and circumstances of the present case would show that the statement of the deceased girl under Section 164 Cr.P.C could not be recorded and even medical examination regarding the present allegations could not be conducted because she contacted Covid-19.Furthermore, the allegation pertaining to video of the incident of rape on the basis of which the other co-accused Anil, had been allegedly blackmailing the deceased girl, is also of much importance. The submission made by the learned state counsel that the gravity of the offence was immense and there is a possibility that the petitioner may tamper with the evidence or may misuse the same including the aforesaid video or may even flee from justice thus carry some weight.”

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