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SC: valuable Right of the accused to seek justice and to defend themselves

SC: valuable Right of the accused to seek justice and to defend themselves
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The Supreme Court today set aside the conviction and sentence awarded by the courts, emphasising the rights of the accused. The bench termed explanation under Section 313 as the right of the accused to seek justice and to defend themselves.

“Thus, once a plausible version has been put forth in defence at the Section 313 CrPC examination stage, then it is for the prosecution to negate such defense plea.”, the bench said.

Tuesday, the three-Judge bench of Justices NV Ramana, S Abdul Nazeer, and Surya Kant while acquitted the appellant observed that accused examination under Section 313 of the CrPC was not carefully analysed and considered by the trial Court. The bench held that,

“Such opportunity is a valuable right of the accused to seek justice and defend oneself.”

The bench noted that, the learned Additional Sessions Judge neglected the defences projected by the appellant.

“the learned Additional Sessions Judge focused on negating the defences projected by the appellant. In response to the contradictions between important aspects of the prosecutrix and her father’s testimonies, like differences in physical description and antecedents of the male tenant and the inability of the witnesses and the police to catch or trace the boy, the trial Court instead noted that there was no reason to disbelieve the prosecutrix and her father.”

The learned Additional Sessions Judge relied on the testimonies of prosecutrix and her father.

“in the absence of any evidence proving enmity between the parties it was impossible that anyone would falsely implicate a woman in such like offence.”

The bench also noted the contradictions between the testimonies of prosecutrix, her father and agencies.

learned counsel for the appellant who contended that the testimonies of the two starwitnesses, being full of material contradictions, are far from reliable. The delay in registration of the FIR and the lack of any attempt to catch or even later trace the male tenant showed that the story was concocted by the prosecutrix’s family with ulterior motives.”

The bench observed that generic reasoning may not “necessarily true always”.

“Many aspects, as discussed hereunder, have completely been ignored or only dealt with hastily. Further, the reasoning is generic and is premised upon generalisations which may not be necessarily true always.”

The bench also clarified that, parents will not damage the reputation of their daughter, but this could not be the sole basis of dismissing defence.

“It is indisputable that parents would not ordinarily endanger the reputation of their minor daughter merely to falsely implicate their opponents, but such clichés ought not to be the sole basis of dismissing reasonable doubts created and/or defences set out by the accused.”

The bench also observed the delay of 5 days in filing FIR while the father was the eye witness.

It is difficult to appreciate that a father would await a second incident to happen before moving the law into motion.

The bench futher observed that, no step was taken to avail medical examination or nor they took social help, after the incident.

“In the facts of the present case, neither is Section 366A by itself a sexual offence in the strict sense nor do the inactions of the prosecutrix or her father inspire confidence on genuineness of the prosecution story. No steps were taken to avail of medical examination of the victim, nor was the Panchayat or any social forum approached for any form of redress till the occurrence of the second alleged incident.”

The bench also observed that, the father and his two male friend “failed to stop the tenant boy who was allegedly about to commit a sexual offence with the minor victim and neither did they later make any attempt to even register a complaint against him.

The bench observed the reaction of the father of the prosecutrix at the time of incident reported.

“Strangely, the prosecution has acquiesced to such disappearance of the boy from the scene. Still further, the father of the prosecutrix merely registered his protest to the appellant on the scene, instead of reacting instinctively and approaching police authorities when faced with possible trafficking of his daughter.”

The bench noted that, “spot map” was not provided where the “appellant allegedly threatened the prosecutrix”. The bench also observed that prosecutrix letter was not produced which prosecutrix alleged that appellant got written from her. Then further noted the contradictions in the statements of prosecutrix and her father.

“In addition to these inconsistencies which cast a serious shadow of doubt over the version of events put forth by the prosecution, the accounts of PW1 and PW2 are superficial and lack detail. Important links of the story, including what happened in the crucial five minutes when the girl was locked inside the room or how the male tenant reacted, are missing.”

The bench then said that, the accused must be carefully analyzed and given opportunity of explanation through Section 313(1).

“Under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 after the prosecution closes its evidence and examines all its witnesses, the accused is given an opportunity of explanation through Section 313(1) (b). Any alternate version of events or interpretation proffered by the accused must be carefully analysed and considered by the trial Court in compliance with the mandate of Section 313(4).”

The bench said alternate version of the appellant was taken lightly.

“In the case at hand, the alternate version given by the appellant could not be lightly brushed aside. Her twopart defence, put succinctly, was that first there was no male tenant at all and no one except for her child and mother lived with her, and second, that she was being falsely implicated as vengeance for filing a rape complaint against one Bhola Singh with whom the prosecutrix’s father used to work.”

The Court concluded that,

“the prosecution has failed to discharge its burden of proving the guilt of the appellant under Section 366A and 506 of the IPC beyond reasonable doubt. Thus, for the reasons aforesaid, the appeal is allowed and the conviction and sentence awarded by the Courts below are set aside. The appellant is acquitted and consequently set free.”

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