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False rape accusation causes equal distress and humiliation to the accused
Dattatray alias Kashinath Babaso Khatal Vs The State of Maharashtra
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1061 OF 2013
About/from the judgment:
The Bombay High Court recently set aside the conviction of a 45-year old man accused of raping a woman multiple times.
In doing so, court spoke about the impact of false implications in rape cases and observed, "At the same time, if the prosecutrix is an adult and full of understanding, the court is required to ascertain whether her evidence is reliable and trustworthy. In a case of rape, the onus is always on the prosecution to prove affirmatively each ingredient of the offence alleged against the accused. Such onus never shifts on the accused. In such a case, it is not the duty of the accused to explain as to how and why he is falsely implicated.
The offence of rape causes distress and humiliation to the victim thereof and in a similar manner, false accusation of rape causes equal distress and humiliation to the accused."
The court was hearing an appeal filed by a Satara-based man, challenging his conviction under Sections 376 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code. The appellant was booked in August, 2008, after a woman, a marketing professional, registered a complaint against him with the local police.
In her complaint, the woman claimed that on her way back home, the accused offered to give her a lift on his bike, and she accepted. Later, the man threatened to stab her with a knife, took her to a secluded place and raped her multiple times.
During the trial, the appellant denied all allegations, claiming that he was being falsely implicated as the complainant wanted to extract money from him and his family. The lower court, however, ruled against him and sentenced him to seven years rigorous imprisonment.
Examining the challenge to this judgment, the high court now noted loopholes, and the complainant's tendency to "modulate her version to suit the prosecution case".
For instance, it observed, "The prosecutrix/PW1 was having tons of opportunities after her jump from the motorcycle to seek help from the persons passing by that road. She could have very well stopped other vehicles and she could have narrated her suffering. She could have disclosed the fact that the appellant/accused was abducting her by threatening her to the passersby."
The court further took note of a recording which showed that the complainant's father had demanded an amount of Rs. 7 lakhs from the accused man's son for securing the appellant's acquittal.
"This unchallenged evidence of the defence witness probabilize the defence of the appellant/accused that he was honey-trapped by the prosecutrix/PW1 in order to extract money from him. Reasonable doubt lurks in the judicial mind as to whether the prosecutrix/PW1 is a witness of truth or whether she was using her womanhood for falsely implicating the appellant/accused in the crime in question," it noted.
The appeal was therefore allowed and the appellant was directed to be set free.
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