Punjab and Haryana High Court acquits minor in rape case, raps trial court for perversity

Punjab and Haryana High Court  acquits minor in rape case, raps trial court for perversity

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4

Just about a year after a juvenile from the city was convicted in a rape case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court (HC) honourably acquitted the convict after holding that the trial court committed material irregularity and perversity while convicting him.

The Bench asserted that the prosecution miserably failed to establish its case before the court. A copy of the judgment was also directed to be forwarded by the Registrar-General of the HC to the presiding Judge concerned for information.

The judgment by Justice Anil Kshetarpal of the High Court is out of the ordinary as “honourable” acquittal is rare as accused in almost all the cases are acquitted after being given the benefit of doubt.

The juvenile had moved the HC against the UT, Chandigarh, challenging the judgment of conviction passed by an Additional Sessions Judge-cum-Judge, Special Court, Chandigarh, in August last year.

The Judge, vide the order, had convicted the appellant, along with another juvenile, for committing rape and another offence under Section 376 of the IPC, and Section 4 of the POCSO Act.

Allowing the appeal, Justice Kshetarpal asserted: “On careful critical analysis of the record with the judgment passed by the trial court, this court has come to a conclusion that the trial court has committed a material irregularity and perversity while convicting the appellant. In this case, the prosecution has miserably failed to establish its case before the court.

Justice Kshetarpal, in his verdict running into nine pages, demolished the trial court judgment on at least nine counts before asserting that the prosecutrix’s statement remained uncorroborated and her evidence was also not reliable. “This court is of the opinion that the judgment under appeal cannot be sustained. Hence, it is set aside. The appellant is honourably acquitted of the charges,” Justice Kshetarpal added.

The prosecution had claimed that the alleged incident took place on the intervening night of September 25 and 26, 2017, at 2 am, when the “victim” was returning all alone from a friend’s birthday party.

Justice Kshetarpal asserted that the prosecution did not make the friend a part of its investigation. It was the “victim’s” case that the appellant was also present in the birthday party. As such, it was imperative for the prosecution to prove there was a party. “However, the prosecution did not lead any evidence except bald statement of the prosecutrix that there was a party...”

Justice Kshetarpal added that the prosecutrix’s case was that her mother informed the police by dialling 100 after she narrated the incident to her. But she did not make a statement when the police came. “However, no record of the call made by the mother to the police and cops’ visit to their residence has been produced,” Justice Kshetarpal added.

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