A SPECIAL court in Thane acquitted a 33-year-old in a sexual abuse case observing that the evidence of the 11-year-old victim “created doubt”. The court recently observed that the prosecution had failed to prove the offence beyond all reasonable doubt including not being able to explain the two-day delay in lodging of the FIR by the victim’s mother.
According to the girl’s statement, her father had died in her early childhood and she had been living with her mother and elder sister when the incident took place in 2013. She said she knew the accused since he lived behind her house. On the day of the incident, the man took her to his home from school during lunch break and sexually abused her, the girl had said in her statement. Her sister had followed her and seen her from the window of the man’s house. She went home and told their mother about the incident. The mother then asked the girl about the matter and later went to confront the accused. According to the prosecution, as the man was not home on the first day she went again on the next day and confronted him, when neighbours gathered and took him to the police station.
The victim’s mother, the complainant in the case, passed away during the course of the trial, before she could depose. The victim and her sister, both teenagers, deposed about the incident. The court observed that while the sole evidence of the victim was sufficient to convict the accused, the court had to be cautious in appreciating the evidence. “Undoubtedly, woman will not put her chastity on stake. But, it is not always correct (sic),” the court said.
The court observed that the victim “improved” her evidence before the court in describing the sexual acts committed on her by the accused. The court also said while the victim’s sister had informed their mother about the incident, she had “not done anything”. It said “if such incident could have taken place”, the victim’s mother would have confronted the accused immediately.
“But, she has done nothing. PW 2 (victim’s sister) happily went to the school. She has not disclosed the incident to the teachers or to any students or class teacher. Victim also attended school. But she has also not stated the incident to either to her mother, sister, teachers, class teacher or classmate,” the court said.
Further, the court said, the victim’s sister had said she had followed her and seen her with the accused. “Easily she could have called her sister if the accused was taking the victim to his house. At the relevant time, she might be aged 14 years. She was knowing the consequences of the act of accused and victim. But she did not raise any hue or cry. She easily could have collected neighbours by raising hue and cry,” the court observed, concluding that the evidence of the victim and her sister “created doubt in the mind”. The court also observed that the prosecution had not examined other witnesses, including other students or neighbours of the accused.
The accused was acquitted of IPC Sections 354 (sexual harassment), 506 (criminal intimidation) and Sections 7 and 8 of the POCSO Act.
In previous Supreme Court orders, it has been observed that while ordinarily delay in filing FIR would be looked in favour of accused, the criterion is different in cases of sexual abuse where the delay may be due to a variety of factors and has to be considered with a different yardstick.