Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Judgement of Additional Sessions Judge, Araria set aside, the appellants accused of the offence of attempt to rape, acquitted

In Laxhmi Yadav Vs. State of Bihar (2024), the appeal was preferred by the appellants on being aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment of conviction passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Araria, whereby and whereunder the appellants/ convicts were convicted under Sections 376/511 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).  

Section 376 of IPC elaborates the punishment for rape . The word "rape" is defined under Section 375 of IPC. The punishment for committing rape is rigorous imprisonment for ten years which may extend to life imprisonment. Section 376 elaborates three sub-sections and five sub-parts. Section 376 (1) mentions the punishment for rape. Section 376 (2) states that if the persons in authority commit rape, they will also be liable to the same punishment. Section 376 (3) states that if any person rapes a woman under the age of 16 years , he will be liable to be punished for twenty years. The offence under Section 376 is a non-bailable and cognisable offence, which means that the accused can't avail bail as a matter of right. The bail to the accused would be granted at the court's discretion. 

Section 511 of the IPC deals with the punishment for attempting to commit offences that are not specifically covered under other sections. Section 511 reads: “Whoever attempts to commit an offence punishable by this Code with imprisonment for life or imprisonment, or to cause such an offence to be committed, and in such attempt does any act towards the commission of the offence, shall, where no express provision is made by this Code for the punishment of such attempt, be punished with imprisonment of any description provided for the offence, for a term which may extend to one-half of the imprisonment for life or, as the case may be, one-half of the longest term of imprisonment provided for that offence, or with such fine as is provided for the offence, or with both.”

This section underscores the principle that an attempt to commit a crime is, in itself, a punishable act. It highlights the importance of intent and action towards the commission of a crime, even if the crime is not completed. By penalizing attempts, Section 511 aims to curb criminal activities at their inception, thereby enhancing the overall safety and security of society.

The counsel for the appellants, Vipul Sinha, the Amicus Curiae submitted that admittedly, all the material prosecution witnesses are closely related to the informant and are highly interested. During the course of investigation, not a single independent witness has come forward to claim himself/herself to be the eye witness to the occurrence of attempt to rape on September 15, 2000 at 6 A.M. but a complaint was filed on the next day. This created doubt over the authenticy of the prosecution version. The parties were on litigating terms from before as the proceedings under Sections 107 and 144 Cr.P.C were also initiated against them from before. Hence, to settle the personal vendetta with the accused appellants, this false case was registered against them. He pointed out that the recovered clothes were not sent for any chemical examination neither from bare perusal of the records, it appears that the victim/complainant was medically examined. 

The Court's order noted that "all the prosecution witnesses are highly interested witnesses. The offence relates to attempt of rape which comes within the purview of cognizable offence and for the cognizable offence, it is prerequisites that F.I.R should be registered. But in the instant case, instead of registering an F.I.R, a complaint was filed by taking a plea that Officer-in-charge had not the registered the F.I.R. Section 154(3) of the Cr.P.C facilitates that any person aggrieved by a refusal on the part of an officer in charge of a police station to record the information under cognizable offence, he/she may send the substance of such information, in writing and by post, to the Superintendent of Police concerned who, if satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, shall either investigate the case himself or direct an investigation to be made by any police officer subordinate to him, in the manner provided by this Code, and such officer shall have all the powers of an officer in charge of the police station in relation to that offence. Hence, this Court finds lacuna for not lodging the F.I.R in this case."

The Court's judgement records that according to the evidence of the victim, the appellants Laxmi Yadav and Bidhyanand Yadav caught hold her and torn her blouse but the said blouse has not been exhibited as material exhibit. From perusal of the prosecution evidence, it is also apparent that the victim sustained injuries on her person at the time of occurrence but there is no medical evidence on record to support and corroborate the prosecution case in respect of the fact that the victim has sustained injuries on her person.

The judgement concluded that there was an inordinate delay of one day in registering a case without explaining the delay. The prosecution has failed to establish its case beyond the shadow of all reasonable doubts with respect to the manner and motive of the occurrence. There is contradiction in the evidences of the prosecution witnesses and most of the witnesses are highly interested witnesses. Hence, the appellants are entitled to get the benefits of doubt.

In his judgment dated June 19, 2024, Justice Sunil Kumar Panwar set aside the judgement of conviction dated August 24, 2006 and order of sentence dated August 25, 2006 passed by the 1st Additional Sessions Judge, Araria, in Sessions Trial No. 643/2001 and 92/2001 and acquitted all the appellants of all the charges after getting the benefits of doubt.

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