In The Supreme Court of India Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction Case No. Criminal Appeal no. 231 of 2015 Petitioner State of M.P. Respondent Madanlal Date of Judgement Decided on 1 July, 2015 Bench Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant
The respondent as accused was sent up for trial for the offence punishable under Sec 376(2)(f) IPC against the victim, aged about 7 years before the learned Sessions Judge. The learned trial Judge on the basis of the material brought on record came to hold that the prosecution had been able to establish the charge against the accused and accordingly found him guilty and sentenced him.
The accused preferred an appeal against the sentence before the High Court wherein the counsel for the appellant contended that the trial court had failed to appreciate the evidence in proper perspective and had not considered the material contradictions in the testimony of prosecution witness. The learned Judge also noted the compromise entered into by the accused and the parents of the victim. Then the HC converted the offence to one under 354 IPC and confined the sentence of the period of custody already undergone.
The State then preferred this appeal for special leave in the Supreme Court. The Court observed that the learned Single Judge has not referred to the evidence that has been adduced during the trial and set aside the judgment of the HC and remitted the matter to it for appropriate adjudication. The Court also held that there cannot be a compromise or settlement in crimes against the body of woman as these are the offences which suffocate the breath of life and sully the reputation.
On 27.12.2008, the victim, aged about 7 years, PW1, was proceeding towards Haar from her home and on the way the accused told her that her mother had gone towards the river and accordingly took her near the river Parvati, removed her undergarment and made her sit on his lap, and at that time the prosecutrix shouted. As the prosecution story proceeds, he discharged on her private parts as well as on the stomach and washed the same. Charge sheet was filed and the matter was committed to the Court of Session. The learned trial Judge on the basis of the material brought on record came to hold that the prosecution had been able to establish the charge against the accused and 3 accordingly found him guilty and sentenced him. The judgment was brought in appeal before the High Court and the appellant contended that the trial court had failed to appreciate the evidence in proper perspective and had not considered the material contradictions. Appellant also submitted that the parties had entered into a compromise and a petition seeking leave too compromise though was filed before the trial judge, did not find favor with him on the ground that the offence in question was non-compoundable. The High Court converted the offence to one under 354 IPC and confined the sentence to the period already undergone.
Hence this appeal was filed to question the legal acceptability of the judgment and order passed by the learned Single Judge of the HC.
Arguments in favour of Appellants
The arguments put forward by the appellants are as follows:
1. The HC has not kept in mind the jurisdiction of the appellate court and dislodged the conviction and converted the conviction to one under Sec 354 IPC.
2.The judgment does not commend acceptation as the learned Single Judge of the HC has not exercised its bounden duty of the appellate Court to reappreciate the evidence in proper perspective and thereafter arrive at appropriate conclusion.
3. The quantum of sentence imposed by the High Court is also not correct.
Arguments in favour of Respondemt
The respondent counsel argued that:
1. The impugned judgment is absolutely impeccable as the prosecution had failed to prove the offence under Sec 376(2)(f) read with Sec 511 IPC.
2. When the prosecutrix was a seven year old girl and the ingredients of the offence had not been established the conversion of the offence to one under Sec 354 IPC by the Court cannot be found fault with.
3. Once the view of the HC is found defensible, the imposition of sentence under Sec 354 IPC cannot be regarded as perverse.
The Court discussed the manner of exercise of jurisdiction by the appellate Court while deciding an appeal and observed that the Single Judge while considering the appeal has not at all referred to the evidence that has been adduced during the trial. And the Court was inclined to set aside the judgment of the High Court and remit the matter to it for appropriate adjudication.
But the Court also went ahead to consider another aspect in the context of this case. The Court observed that the Single Judge has been influenced by the compromise that has been entered into between the accused and the parents of the victim. The Court reproduced a passage from Shimbu and Another v. State of Haryana
“Further, a compromise entered into between the parties cannot be construed as a leading factor based on which lesser punishment can be awarded”
Finally the Court came into the conclusion that in a case of rape or attempt of rape, the conception of compromise under no circumstances can really be thought of. These are crimes against the body of a woman which is her own temple. These are offences which suffocate the breath of life and sully the reputation. And reputation, needless to emphasize, is the richest jewel one can conceive of in life. No one would allow it to be extinguished.
The Supreme Court in this case has rightly observed that rape is a crime against the body of a woman which is her own temple. These are offences which suffocate the breath of life and sully the reputation. No one can allow it to be extinguished.
And the Court has aptly came into the conclusion that, there cannot be a compromise or settlement as it would be against her honour which matters the most. This would bring out a new era of criminal justice in offences against women. This will prevent the perpetrator of the crime from escaping his criminal liability by marrying the victim. And will ensure that on who commits such a crime gets punished for his act.
Moreover the decision of the Court to set aside the judgment of the HC and to remit the matter to it for appropriate adjudication will help us ensure justice to the prosecutrix. This will ensure that the HC is exercising its appellate jurisdiction in the right manner and perceives the evidence from its right perspective.