In The Supreme Court of India
Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction
Criminal Appeal no. 19 of 2017
State of M.P.
Date of Judgement:
Pronounced on 19 July, 2017
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Uday Umesh Lalit.
The prosecutrix was raped by the accused while she was going to her school. An FIR was lodged against the accused and charge sheet was filed for the offences committed under Section 363, 366 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 363 of IPC deals with the punishment for kidnapping which is imprisonment for a term that may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.
Section 376 of IPC deals with the offence of Rape, the punishment for Rape is rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than seven years and may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also made be liable to fine.
The accused was convicted and the Trail court held that all the stated offences against the respondent were proved beyond reasonable doubt. The accused aggrieved with the Judgement filed an appeal to the High Court.
Due to discrepancy in the birth certificate and the school certificate, the High court presumed that the girl was above 18 years of age at the time of the incident and reached at a conclusion that the girl was a consenting party and was more than 18 years of age at the time of the incident and thus, no offence against the accused had been proved.
Aggrieved with the Judgement of the High court, a criminal appeal was filed in the Supreme Court. The apex court held that Rule 12(3) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) rules, 2007 is applicable in determining the age of the Rape victim.
The prosecutrix was raped by the accused while she was going to her school. The accused pulled the victim into an ambassador car and forced her to smell something as a consequence of which she fell unconscious and she was then taken to some unknown place.
On reattaining consciousness, the prosecutrix felt pain in her private parts. On the very same day she was admitted in a district hospital. Thereafter she narrated the entire incident to her family members and lodged FIR.
As a part of investigation, the prosecutrix was sent for medical examination. The investigating officials seized certain articles including her clothes at the time of the incident, her birth certificate and the certificate of her middle school examination.
A charge sheet was filed against the respondent for committing the offences under Section 363(Kidnapping), 366 and Section 376(Rape) and the statement of prosecution witnesses were recorded.
The session’s court convicted the accused and held that the offences against the accused were proved beyond reasonable doubts.
The convicted was awarded with rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs.500/- for the offence under Section 363 IPC. For the offence under Section 366 he was awarded 10 years rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs.1000/- and for the crime under Section 376 IPC is 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs.1000/- .
The accused being aggrieved by the Session’s court Judgement, filed an appeal to the High court. The High court noticed a variation of two days between the birth certificate and school certificate and found this as a sufficient evidence to believe that the prosecutrix was not below 16 years of age at the time when the offence was committed against her.
After certain tests the High court concluded that the girl was a consenting party and was more than 18 years of age at the time of the incident and thus held that no offence against the accused has been proved.
A criminal appeal was filed by the petitioners in the Supreme Court, whereby it was held that the High court gave undue importance to a two days difference between the birth and the school certificate and held that birth certificate is the determining evidence with regard to the determination of age.
It further held that Rule 12(3) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and protection) Rules, 2007 is applicable in determining the age of the rape victim.
- What is the criterion to be applied and adopted to resolve the controversy over the determination of age of a rape victim?
- Is it necessary to seek medical evidence for determining the age of the rape victim in case of variation of date of birth in the Exhibits?
Arguments in favour of Appellants
The arguments advanced in favour of the appellants include:
- The High Court gave too much importance to a two day difference between the birth certificate and the school certificate and erroneously held that the difference was sufficient to disbelieve the age of the prosecutrix.
- Birth certificate is the determining evidence with regard to the determination of age.
Arguments in favour of Respondents
The arguments advanced in favour of the respondents include:
- The prosecutrix did not try to resist and had no injury visible on her body, making it clear that she was a consenting party.
- The prosecution story is concocted as her evidence is not corroborated by the evidence of the Manager of the Hotel.
The apex court held that Rule 12(3) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and protection) Rules, 2007 is applicable for determining the age of the Rape victim.
In the case of Mahadeo S/O Kerba Maske v. State of Maharashtra and Anr it was held that Rule 12(3) of the Juvenile Justice Rules, 2007 is applicable in determining the age of the victim of rape.
According to this Rule, determination of age is to be conducted by the court by seeking evidence and by obtaining:
- The matriculation or equivalent certificate and in the absence thereof
- The date of birth certificate from the school first attended and in the absence of this
- The birth certificate given by corporation or a municipality or panchayat and in the absence of all these certificates medical opinion can be sought for.
The court further held that the ossification test is not the sole criteria for determining the age of the victim as certificate of birth and the certificate of medical examination also have been enclosed.
The Court held that the respondent was liable for conviction and directed to take him into the custody forthwith and to serve out the sentence.
The Judgement of the apex court in this case is a very good initiative with regard to the protection of rape victims and lowers the burden of proof on the victims by providing requisite provisions with regard to the determination of age of rape victims.
The Judgement further depicts a strict application of the Rules of Juvenile Justice Act, 2007. And rules out possible unwanted difficulties and medical examination for determining the age of rape victim when both the birth certificate and the school middle examination certificate are submitted.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje