CrPC Doesn’t Permit Keeping Rape Complaint Pending For Pre-Investigation: High Court Slams Rajasthan Police, Acquits Accused

In a significant judgment, the Rajasthan High Court acquitted Ghulam Mohammed, who was convicted by the trial court for raping his stepdaughter on multiple occasions. The case, S.B. Criminal Appeal No. 90/1992, was presided over by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Anoop Kumar Dhand. The appellant, Ghulam Mohammed, was represented by Mr. Sudhir Jain and Mr. Parth Sharma, while the State of Rajasthan was represented by Mr. Imran Khan, the Public Prosecutor.

Factual Matrix

The case originated from an FIR lodged by the mother of the prosecutrix, alleging that her husband, Ghulam Mohammed, had raped her daughter on three different occasions. The trial court convicted Mohammed under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sentenced him to seven years of rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 500.

Legal Issues Involved

1. Delay in Lodging FIR: The FIR was lodged two years after the first alleged incident, with no satisfactory explanation for the delay.

2. Credibility of the Prosecutrix’s Testimony: The case heavily relied on the testimony of the prosecutrix, which had inconsistencies and lacked corroboration.

3. Conduct of the Investigating Officer: The Investigating Officer (I.O.) recorded statements before filing the FIR and did not prepare a site plan of the alleged crime scenes.

Court’s Decision

Justice Anoop Kumar Dhand meticulously analyzed the evidence and the procedural lapses in the investigation. The court highlighted several critical points:

1. Delay in FIR: The court noted that the delay of more than two years in lodging the FIR was not satisfactorily explained, casting doubt on the prosecution’s case.

2. Inconsistencies in Testimony: The prosecutrix’s testimony had significant inconsistencies, including changes in the location of the alleged incidents and the timeline.

3. Lack of Corroborative Evidence: The medical examination did not find any injuries on the prosecutrix, and the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report was not exhibited in court.

4. Improper Investigation: The I.O. did not prepare a site plan or take the prosecutrix to the crime scenes, which the court found to be a serious lapse.

Important Observations

The court made several important observations regarding the conduct of the investigation and the legal standards for conviction in rape cases:

– “There is no provision under the Code of Criminal Procedure or criminal jurisprudence to keep any report of offence of rape or any offence pending for pre-investigation for considerable time and record the statement prior to lodging of FIR.”

– “The sole testimony of the child witness (PW-2 ‘S’) does not inspire confidence. In the absence of any witnesses or medical evidence to corroborate, reasonable doubt on the commission of the offence by the appellant-accused can therefore be inferred.”

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The court concluded that the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The judgment of the trial court was set aside, and Ghulam Mohammed was acquitted. The court also directed the Director General of Police (DGP) of Rajasthan to conduct an inquiry into the conduct of the Investigating Officers and take appropriate action.

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