Section 313 CrPC: Accused’s silence about matters he is expected to explain leads to an adverse inference against him
Prahlad vs State of Rajasthan
CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 17941796 OF 2017
About/from the judgment:
“The duty is on the State to show that there is no possibility of reform or rehabilitation of the accused. When the offence is not gruesome, not cold-blooded murder, nor is committed in a diabolical manner, the court will impose life imprisonment.”
The Supreme Court has held that silence on the part of the accused as to questions put to him by the court under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in such a matter wherein he is expected to come out with an explanation, leads to an adverse inference against the accused.
The bench comprising of Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and Justice Mukeshkumar Rasikbhai Shah held thus while detailing reasons to its earlier order confirming conviction for murder charges, but acquitting the accused, Prahlad, of rape charges and also commuting the death sentence imposed on him.
In this case, the trial court had put questions like when did he part the company of the victim and also as to what happened after getting the chocolates for the victim.
“No explanation is forthcoming from the statement of the accused under Section 313 Cr.P.C. as to when he parted the company of the victim. Also, no explanation is there as to what happened after getting the chocolates for the victim. The silence on the part of the accused, in such a matter wherein he is expected to come out with an explanation, leads to an adverse inference against the accused,” the bench said holding that there is ample material against the accused to convict him for the offence under Section 302 IPC and thus the trial court and the high court are, on facts, justified in convicting the accused for the offence under Section 302 of the IPC.
As regards the charge under the POCSO Act, the bench observed that evidence relating to penetration into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a child etc., or any part of the body is not found in the doctor’s evidence. “The Trial Court as well as the High Court have not gone into the depth of the evidence relating to offence of penetrative sexual assault, in detail. Certain casual observations are made which are not supported by the evidence led by the prosecution. In light of the aforementioned evidence of PW10 doctor, and in view of the fact that no other reliable evidence exists to prove the charge of penetrative sexual assault, i.e. any of the acts as detailed in Section 3 of the POCSO Act, it is our considered opinion that the Trial Court and the High Court are not justified in convicting the accused for the offence under Section 4 of the POCSO Act,” it said.
Acquitting him of the rape charges, the bench observed that this is not a fit case to impose the death penalty on him, as he does not have any criminal background, nor is he a habitual offender. “The accused was also young during the relevant point of time. The duty is on the State to show that there is no possibility of reform or rehabilitation of the accused. When the offence is not gruesome, not cold-blooded murder, nor is committed in a diabolical manner, the court will impose life imprisonment. In the case at hand, the mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating factors. The only aggravating factor in the matter is that the accused took advantage of his position in the victim’s family for committing the murder of the minor girl inasmuch as the minor girl was treating the accused as her Mama (uncle),” the bench added.
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