Delhi court convicts 2 for attempt to murder, acquits them of sexual harassment charge

 A court here has convicted two men in an attempt to murder case, saying prosecution witnesses cannot be expected to give a “parrot-like testimony” and minor variations and inconsistencies in their deposition before the court is “natural”.

The court, however, acquitted them of the charges of sexual harassment, stalking, and criminal intimidation.

Additional Sessions Judge Vishal Pahuja was hearing a case against Sanjay, Kale and Rohit, who were accused of stabbing a man, besides sexually harassing, threatening and stalking a woman on November 26, 2014.

Rohit died during the trial and the proceedings against him were abated.

“In view of the observations… and the cogent evidence led on record, this court is of the view that the prosecution has successfully proved the case and established the necessary ingredients of the offence under sections 307 (attempt to murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code charged against the accuse persons,” the judge said in the judgment passed earlier this month.

“Accordingly, the accused persons namely Sanjay and Kale stand convicted…,” the judge said.

The matter has been posted for filing of affidavits, following which arguments on sentencing will be heard. In the last hearing on May 25, the court directed the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLA) to file its report.

The judge, however, acquitted both accused of charges under IPC sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354A(sexual harassment), 354 D (stalking) and 506 (criminal intimidation) in a separate case, citing the “lack of substantial evidence”.

Rejecting the arguments of the accused’s counsel, the judge said, “It has been time and again observed by the Supreme Court in various judgments that the prosecution witnesses cannot be expected to give parrot-like testimony and appearing of minor variations and inconsistencies are natural and they are bound to occur in their deposition”.

The judge said minor variations generally occurred as the evidence is recorded after a gap of several months or even several years after the date of the incident.

“The present case has been based upon the direct evidence and not based upon circumstantial evidence. The ocular evidence in the form of testimony of eyewitnesses have been trustworthy and unblemished with respect to the assault upon the body of victim ” the judge said.

He further said the deposition of the witnesses was supported and corroborated by the medical evidence.

“The ingredients of IPC section 307 have been duly complied with beyond reasonable doubt and are sufficient to hold the accused persons guilty of the offence of attempt to murder,” the judge said.

Regarding the offences of sexual harassment, the judge said there are material infirmities and discrepancies in the complainant’s deposition regarding the allegations of sexual harassment, both during her cross-examination and when compared to the testimony of two other eyewitnesses.

Further, the testimonies proved allegations of sexual harassment only against Rohit and not against the other accused persons, the court said, adding, the complainant had failed to prove on record the assault or usage of criminal force by the accused persons with the intention to outrage her modesty, the judge said.

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The judge also said the offence of stalking was not proved as the accused persons did not continuously follow the complainant despite a clear indication of disinterest by her.

“Just that accused persons allegedly caused sexual harassment at one place which could not be proved on record and thereafter the accused persons reached the second place .(it) does not fall in the definition of stalking ,” the judge said.

He also said the complainant’s entire testimony was silent regarding the threat extended by the accused persons.

The Mehrauli police station had registered an FIR against the accused.

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