A court here has acquitted two accused persons of committing aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a 13-year-old minor in 2019, saying the alleged victim’s testimony was “highly unreliable” because of several improvements or contradictions.
The court, which discharged the third accused from the charges of sexually harassing and wrongfully confining the complainant, also slammed the investigating officer (IO) for “serious lapses” in the investigation.
The court’s statement came during a recent hearing in a case against the trio under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Additional Sessions Judge Amit Sahrawat who was hearing the case said in cases of rape or penetrative sexual assault, the testimony of the victim is sufficient to prove the case but it should be of “sterling quality” and there “should be a ring of truth around it”.
Noting the evidence before the court, the judge said there were material contradictions in the alleged victim’s statement regarding the name of the accused persons and also the number of times the offence was committed.
Her testimony regarding when she came in contact with the accused was also “highly contradictory”, he said.
“In the present case, the victim is the only eye witness but her testimony is full of improvements or contradictions and therefore highly unreliable, and except this, there is no other witness or evidence on record to prove the prosecution’s case,” the court said.
Referring to a 2020 verdict of the Supreme Court, the bench said the victim’s testimony “cannot be taken as gospel truth when it is full of improvements or contradictions”.
“Hence it can be said that the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and accordingly, the benefit of the doubt is given to all three accused persons,” it said.
Slamming the IO for “serious lapses” in the investigation, the court said that the Delhi Police officer did not collect the details of the hotel where the assault on the victim was allegedly committed, nor did she collect the call details record (CDR).
“It is very unfortunate to say that the IO has become a helpless person, that the hotel owner did not answer her notice and she filed a half-baked charge sheet,” the court said, adding that regarding the collection of the CDR, the officer “sent an email and thereafter kept sleeping”.
The court also deprecated the IO’s conduct for visiting the spot a month after the alleged incident.
Noting the medico-legal case (MLC), according to which there were no abrasions or injuries on the victim’s private parts, the court dismissed the prosecution’s argument that her hymen was torn.
“When there are so many contradictions or improvements in the testimony of the victim and there is no other independent fact on record to corroborate her testimony, then torn hymen cannot be taken as the only cause of rape or penetrative sexual assault,” it said.
The bench added, “There is no other evidence or witness on record which could corroborate the testimony of the victim, rather other evidence on record has put even more dents on the prosecution’s case.”