Mumbai: Disbelieving the version of a rape victim on the basis of her conduct, the Bombay High Court has acquitted a 56-year-old man by setting aside the verdict of a lower court which had sent him to jail two years ago.
In this case, the rape victim had alleged that she was confined to a cattle-shed for more than 48 hours by the accused who raped her for two consecutive days.
However, the High Court observed that from the evidence it appeared that the victim had remained there voluntarily for more than 48 hours before escaping on the third day although she could have escaped earlier in a similar way.
"The conduct of rape victim does not permit me to place reliance on her evidence. Though conviction for the offence of rape is permissible to be based on sole testimony of the prosecutrix, it is equally necessary to be borne in mind that in such a case the conduct of prosecutrix is of great importance and court has to be careful while examining evidence in such cases," Judge M L Tahilyani recently noted.
The Judge noted that withholding of evidence of three important witnesses in the trial and the conduct of the rape victim had made the case of prosecution "highly doubtful".
"In my considered opinion, the evidence of the prosecutrix (victim) is not reliable. It was absolutely unsafe on the part of the trial judge to base conviction of the appellant on the evidence of such unreliable witness. In the result, the appeal succeeds," the Judge noted.
Accordingly, the Court acquitted Ramdas Rahate, a resident of Buldana district of Maharashtra of charges of rape, criminal intimidation, voluntarily causing hurt and wrongful confinement. He was ordered to be released from jail immediately if not required in any other case.
The prosecutrix and accused belonged to the same village and knew each other. It was alleged that on December 3, 2010, the accused took the victim to a cattle-shed on the pretext of taking her to meet a friend.
However, on reaching the place, the accused slapped
the victim and forced her on heap of fodder. He threatened her not to shout and raped her.
It was alleged that the appellant put tin sheets and wooden logs on the prosecutrix after committing rape on her and did not allow her to go. It was also alleged that there was a small ditch below the tin sheets. She remained there till the next night.
The appellant had allegedly again visited the cowshed around the same time in the night on the next day and had brought meals and water for the prosecutrix. She was forcibly made to eat and subjected to rape by the accused who again put tin sheets and wooden logs on the ditch and left the place.
On the third day, Gajanan Rahate, who was owner of the cattleshed, had opened the said place in the morning. It is at that time that the prosecutrix escaped from the cattleshed.
It is the case of prosecution that the prosecutrix wanted to commit suicide because she was afraid that her family may strongly react due to her absence for two days. However, she was persuaded by Atul and Shankar, residents of same village, against taking such an extreme step.
The rape victim was taken to her residence by Atul and Shankar. The prosecutrix had thereafter visited Paturda Police Station along with her mother and had lodged a report. She was sent for medical examination but the doctor was unable to give a definite opinion as to whether she was subjected to rape.
Although the prosecution examined seven witnesses, it failed to adduce evidence of three material witnesses -- the owner of the cattleshed Gajanan Rahate as well as Atul and Shankar who had persuaded her not to commit suicide. Besides, nothing incriminating was seized from the cattleshed.
The Court disbelieved the victim`s evidence saying, "it appears from her evidence that she escaped from the cattleshed when it was opened by Rahate. However, he was not examined. The victim has also not described as to how could she escape from the cattleshed without being noticed by Rahate."