Delhi HC upholds acquittal of man accused of raping minor, forcibly keeping her at home

The Delhi High Court on Monday upheld the acquittal of a man accused of forcibly keeping a minor girl in his house and repeatedly raping her, saying while the testimony of a victim alone is sufficient to establish guilt, overall circumstances have to be considered to arrive at a “just decision”.

A bench headed by Justice Suresh Kumar Kait dismissed an appeal by the State against the trial court order and said the prosecution not only failed to bring on record the exact age of the prosecutrix but also could not prove that the accused had forcibly made physical relations with her.

Noting that the victim had visited the native village of the accused claiming to be his wife and did not raise alarm on earlier occasions, the court remarked that “the behaviour of prosecutrix speaks a volume about her conduct” and a case of “false accusation” cannot be ruled out.

“The victim has deposed that the accused had made relations thrice with her in the DC Park and also stated that there were public persons in the park but she neither raised any alarm nor any public person noticed it, which is highly unbelievable,” observed the bench, also comprising Justice Neena Bansal Krishna.

During her cross-examination, the bench said, the prosecutrix also admitted that the house had two doors, and windows and ventilators at her height level yet she did not raise her voice or make any effort to escape.

It seems she willingly continued living in the house of the accused for 27 days, it added.

The accused faced criminal proceedings on the basis of an FIR registered for alleged commission of offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including rape, and the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).

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The court also upheld the acquittal of the father of the accused in the matter on the basis of “benefit of doubt”.

The court, in its order, stated that the prosecution did not place on record any document to establish the correct age of the prosecutrix who first claimed that she was 17 years old and then said during her examination before the trial court that she was 19 while her complainant brother claimed she was 12 years old.

“There is no doubt to the legal position that testimony of the prosecutrix alone is sufficient to bring home the guilt of an accused for committing offence under Section 376 (rape) of the IPC, however, before arriving at a just decision, the Court also has to consider the overall facts and circumstances of the case,” it said.

“This court is of the opinion that the learned trial court has rightly held that the prosecution has failed to prove guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubts. Finding no error in the impugned judgment dated 07.08.2019, the present petition seeking leave to appeal is dismissed,” it said.

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