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Thursday, August 05, 2021

Man acquitted in rape case after six years in jail after father prevents minor victim from deposing

The court held that there was no direct evidence in the absence of the minor's testimony.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
Updated: July 3, 2021 8:00:39 am
The court said there was no hindrance for the prosecution to examine the child at the earliest as the accused had been in jail since his arrest. (Representational)

A Special court this week acquitted a man from charges of raping a minor girl in 2015 as her family members did not want her to be examined. The accused, who worked as a domestic help, was 23 years old at the time of the incident and spent over six years in jail as an undertrial.

The court held that there was no direct evidence in the absence of the minor’s testimony. The parents of the girl, who was 3.5 years old at the time of the incident, had submitted before the court that they did not want her to depose as she had forgotten about it.

“The prosecution has failed to bring the girl to give evidence when she was very much with parents, who always attended court. …Defence advocate rightly submitted that the father of the girl has delayed trial, rather he has driven the course of the trial to see that the accused is kept behind the bar for a longer period and ultimately refused to bring the girl to lead evidence,” the court said while acquitting the man on charges including rape, sexual harassment and relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act.

The court said there was no hindrance for the prosecution to examine the child at the earliest as the accused had been in jail since his arrest.

“The material witness, who was the victim’s child, was kept away from deposing. The accused was not able to cross-examine the material child witness,” special Judge Priti Kumar Ghule said.

According to the prosecution, on January 22, 2015, the minor along with her mother was visiting her grandparents. The accused worked as a help in the same building. While she was riding her bicycle below the building, the complainant claimed, the accused had called her and forcefully took her to the fourth floor where he raped her.

The father, who was the complainant in the case, had checked the CCTV footage of the building and handed it over to the police. The accused was arrested based on his complaint. The accused had denied the charges stating that the minor had followed him while he was going to work and he had only sent her back to the ground floor.

The prosecution had said that the evidence included the statement of the girl recorded by a magistrate after the incident. The defence advocate had said that the statement showed that the minor’s mother had also answered questions put to the child. The court held that due to this the statement could not be held as substantive evidence.

The court also held that while the parents of the minor had said that she was always accompanied by a caretaker, she was also not made a witness. It also held that it cannot be held from viewing the CCTV footage that the minor was forced by the accused to go upstairs. It held that the footage showed that the girl had returned to the ground floor within a short while and was seen climbing down calmly, “not scared or crying”.

“Only because the accused and the girl were seen going on the staircase for a couple of seconds, it cannot mean that she was sexually assaulted,” the court said.

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