Twenty years after a man was accused of raping his minor neighbour, the Bombay HC has upheld his acquittal after giving him benefit of doubt and disbelieving the victim’s version of events observing that in the “absence of any DNA analysis” and without any “substantial proof”, the man cannot be attributed any role with commission of alleged offence.
A division bench of justices SS Shinde and SP Tavade upheld the man’s acquittal while dismissing the state government appeal against the 2003 order of the Pune sessions court.
In 2001, the girl, who was then 14 years old, had alleged that the man who was staying in her neighbourhood raped her on multiple occasions, the first time being, 15 days after the Ganpati festival.
The girl and the man’s niece were studying in the same school. The man would often drop his niece and the girl on scooter.
According to the prosecution, sometime in September 2001, 15 days after the Ganpati festival, the man offered to drop the girl to school. He then took her to his friend’s house and raped her. He threatened her with dire consequences in case she would disclose the incident to anyone. He later dropped her back home.
Additional public prosecutor SS Hulke argued that thereafter he raped her on 2-3 occasions.
On September 25, 2001, she disclosed the assault to her mother when she questioned her on returning late from school.
However, they decided not to approach the police.
When the girl missed her menstrual cycle in October, the parents registered the FIR with the Wanwadi police station in Pune.
Ameeta Kuttkrishnan, legal aid advocate appointed for the man, said that the Ganpati festival was from August 22 to September 1 in 2001. If the girl’s statement is to be believed that the man assaulted her for the first time 15 days after the Ganpati festival, then it would be around September 15, 2001. She then informed her mother about the alleged assaults on September 25, 2001.
They lodged an FIR on October 07, and on the same day she was sent for medical examination. The medical report opined that the girl was eight weeks pregnant at the time. After consent from her parents, the girl underwent abortion.
“Therefore, if the prosecutrix is two months pregnant as on 07.10.2001, by no stretch of imagination it can be inferred that she has become pregnant due to the assault that has allegedly been taken place 15 days after Ganesh festival… The case of the prosecution of the alleged sexual assault at the instance of accused is thus falsified,” observed the HC.
Also, investigating officer admitted during the trial that he did not send blood samples of accused and the aborted foetus for DNA analysis. The judges noted that there has been “a serious lapse on the part of the prosecution in not obtaining the DNA report”.
The HC said: “In the absence of any DNA analysis, without any substantial proof, the accused cannot be attributed any role with commission of alleged offence.”
Upholding the acquittal, the HC said: “In the facts and circumstances of the case and keeping in view the delay in lodging the FIR, in absence of DNA report and in the light of discussion in foregoing paragraphs, we are of the view that the view taken by the trial court is plausible.”
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