A woman’s gang rape complaint against two men failed the Supreme Court’s scrutiny 28 years after the alleged incident, leading to the acquittal of the duo, who were sentenced to 10 years by the trial court as well as the Orissa high court.
After tortuous proceedings in the three-tier judicial system spanning close to three decades, the SC found that the lower court and the HC ignored gaping holes in the prosecution’s evidence and its inability to prove the crime. What in particular swung the case against the complainant was the finding about her husband being unaware of the atrocity allegedly committed on her.
The woman, it was found from the cross-examination and testimonies, had a fight with the two men and accused them of rape out of vengeance in 1990.
She alleged that the evening after the fight, the men had dragged her to a field by the side of a busy road where a weekly market was in progress.
She claimed that she had confided in her husband about the sexual assault and had gone to the police station around 11am the next day to lodge an FIR. She had alleged that her petticoat was stained with semen and that she had sustained bruises.
‘No trace of semen or injuries on woman’ A bench of Justices N V Ramana and Mohan M Shantanagoudar found on Wednesday from the forensic test report that the petticoat had no trace of semen and the medical report found no injuries on the woman’s body except a half-centimetre bruise on her cheek. This bruise alone was not sufficient to establish rape, it said.
The husband attested to his wife’s fight with the two accused.
With regard to the rape, however, he deposed that while he had accompanied his wife to the police station a day after the alleged sexual assault, he had no knowledge of the complaint filed by her.
The two men were sentenced to 10 years by the lower court in 1992 and this was upheld by the HC in 2017. The duo spent two years in jail.
Writing the judgment acquitting the accused, Justice Shantanagoudar said the husband’s deposition did not support the woman’s version. “There is no reason why the husband of the victim would contradict her version. The evidence of the victim/prosecutrix and her husband are unreliable and untrustworthy inasmuch as they are not credible witnesses...,” he said. “We cannot resist putting on record that the prosecution has tried to rope in the appellants (accused) merely on assumptions, surmises and conjectures...,” the bench added. “We are of the clear opinion that the prosecutrix apparently had a motive to seek revenge against the accused persons. The testimony of the victim in the peculiar facts and circumstances of this case needs to be discarded since her testimony is a result of seeking revenge and her evidence is not free from blemish,” the bench said.