On 16th December 2020, a Single Judge Bench consisting of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Anoop Chitkara heard the case of Rakesh and others v. State of Himachal Pradesh via video conferencing.
An appeal was filed by the appellants under Section 374(II) of CrPC (Appeals from convictions), seeking acquittal. The appellants were two women, who were undergoing a sentence for forcing a minor girl into flesh trade after conspiring to restrain her into a hotel room.
Facts of the case
In this case, the victim was a 17-year-old minor girl, hailing from Punjab, who stayed with her father and step-mother. In May 2011, the victim went to her sister-in-law’s place at Sultanpur, Panjab. The accused, Pooja, Sheetal, and Pooja’s husband, on the pretext of dance training, allured and confined her in a hotel named Royal Dream, in Nupur, Himachal Pradesh. Rakesh, was the manager of the said hotel.
All these accused forced her into flesh trade against her will, where they would call customers on phone, who would then rape her. During this period, around 10-12 people raped her, and she was forced to consume beer and a yellow colour pill when she complained of pain. The accused, Sheetal, also made her watch pornographic videos, and asked her to enact the same with the customers. She left the hotel after being confined for 3-4 days more.
In June 2011, the victim went to the hotel again to request the accused, Rakesh, to not defame her infront of her relatives. She was then sent in a car along with two men, who sexually abused her by pressing her breasts.
On 27th June 2011, the victim was found alone in a rain shelter at Khatiyar. Lady Pradhan, Mrs. Suman Bala found her sitting alone, and took the victim to her house and provided her with food and stay for the night. The next morning, an FIR was filed in Police Station Jawali, District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh.
As per the examination conducted by Dr. Neerja Gupta, the chemical analyst, there was no presence of semen, and she did not find any injury marks in the victim’s perineal region, vagina, breasts, arms, legs, abdomen back etc., which ruled out forcible sexual assault. She also observed the victim to be habitual of sexual intercourse.
The Trial Court found all the accused guilty, and were sentenced to imprisonment under Section 120B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy) IPC, Section 376 (Punishment for rape) IPC, Section 342 (Punishment for wrongful confinement) IPC, and Section 5 (Procuring, inducing or taking for the sake of prostitution) & Section 6 (Detaining a person in premises where prostitution is carried on) of Immoral Traffic Act, 1956, except under Section 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) IPC.
The Court referred to the case of Vishnu @ Undrya v. State of Maharashtra, 2006(1) SCC 283, “If the statements of facts are pitted against the so-called expert opinion of the doctor with regard to the determination of age based on ossification test scientifically conducted, the evidence of facts of the former will prevail over the expert opinion based on the basis of ossification test.”
The Court observed that as per the testimony given by her mother, the victim had not gone to her sister-in-law’s house, but in fact had gone to her elder sister’s house, after which she left the house without informing anyone. The Court observed that the victim’s credibility was affected since the conduct of an unmarried young victim leaving the house without informing anyone was peculiar.
The Court further observed that the gaps in her statement were even more peculiar and it created further doubts in her credibility as it would be horrific for a young girl to stay open for a night that its scars would always remain in her mind.
The Court referred to the case of Dilip v. State of M.P., 2001 (9) SCC 452, which held that “The age of the prosecutrix was around 16 years, may be a little more. The fact remains that she was not just a child who would have surrendered herself to a forced sexual assault without offering any resistance whatsoever.”
The Court further referred to Narender Kumar v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2012(7) SCC 171, which held that, “In case the evidence is read in its totality and the story projected by the prosecutrix is found to be improbable, the prosecutrix case becomes liable to be rejected.”
The Court held that the credibility of the victim was dented based on the analysis of the evidence. She neither resisted, nor sought any help from others, which impeached her credibility. Thus, the Court allowed the appeal, and all the convicts were acquitted of the charged offences.
Click here to read the judgement.
Libertatem.in is now on Telegram. Follow us for regular legal updates and judgment from courts. Follow us on Google News, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter. You can subscribe to our Weekly Email Updates. You can also contribute stories like this and help us spread awareness for a better society. Submit Your Post Now.