The Allahabad High Court has set aside the conviction of a Brahmin man booked under allegation of rape and provisions of the SC/ST Act after it observed that the trial court had ‘materially erred’ while convicting him. The Court acquitted the man who had spent 20 years in prison on false charges of rape. Bar and Bench first reported the matter on the 8th of February.
The Court also expressed sadness over the ‘sorry state of affairs’ that contributed to the man’s two decade imprisonment, observing the government’s failure to recommend his case for remission of sentence or to commute his sentence under sections 432-434 of the CrPC.
The Bench, comprising of Justices Dr Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Gautam Chowdhary, observed, “Most unfortunate, aspect of this litigation is that the appeal was preferred through jail. The matter remained as a defective matter for a period of 16 years and, therefore, we normally do not mention defective appeal number, but we have mentioned the same. This defective conviction appeal was taken up as listing application was filed by the learned counsel appointed by Legal Services Authority on 6.12.2012 with a special mention that accused is in jail since 20 years.”
“We are pained to mention that even after 14 years of incarceration, the State did not think of exercising its power for commutation of sentence of life imprisonment of the present accused and it appears that power of Governor provided under Article 161 of the Constitution of India are also not exercised though there are restriction to such power to commute sentence… His case should have been considered but has not been considered…The factual scenario in the present case would show that had the Government thought of taking up the case of the accused as per jail manual, it would have been found that the case of the appellant was not so grave that it could not have been considered for remission / commutation,” the Allahabad High Court said.
The Court’s acquittal was based on the medical examination report which said that no sperm or injuries were found on the prosecutrix, who was five months pregnant at the time. Her testimony also indicated that she was not a ‘stellar witness’.
The Allahabad High Court noted, inter-alia, “In examination-in-chief he (father-in-law of the victim) states that the parties called for Panchayat but there is nothing on record that who were the persons called for Panchayat. If the pregnant lady carries fifth month pregnancy is thrashed forcefully on the ground, then there would have been some injury on her person but such injuries on her person are totally absent.“
According to NeoPolitico, the prosecution case had contended that the accused Vishnu, son of Rameshwar Tiwari, had raped her when she was on her way to the fields. He was also claimed to have threatened her with murder should she report the matter to the Police. The report says that the Court also observed that there was a land dispute between the two families.
“In our finding, the medical evidence goes to show that doctor did not find any sperm. The doctor categorically opined that no signs of forcible sexual intercourse were found. This was also based on the finding that there were no internal injuries on the lady who was a grown-up lady,” the Court observed. Consequently, his conviction was overturned.