Man accused of outraging modesty of girl student | High Court sets aside acquittal

 J&K High Court, Srinagar
J&K High Court, SrinagarMubashir Khan/GK File

Srinagar: Allowing an appeal, the High Court of J&K and Ladakh on Thursday set aside acquittal of a man who was accused of use of criminal force with intention to outrage modesty of a 6th standard student in 2006.

On February 23, 2017, the trial court, Additional Sessions Judge Srinagar, had acquitted the accused, S A Khan after remaining in detention for 10 years. The accused happened to be the cousin brother of the victim.

The prosecution case was that on April 5, 2006, the prosecutrix (victim) lodged a report with the police stating that she was a student of 6th class at a school in Rajbagh here and on the day, she was proceeding towards her house when the accused offered to accompany her to home.

Accordingly, the victim accompanied the accused to the house and there was none in the house. She further said that the accused tried to sexually assault her. When she raised hue and cry, the accused tied a rope around her neck and gagged her mouth. Later she raised an alarm and some people came on spot while the accused fled away.

Subsequently, police registered a case (FIR No.33/2006). On 30 December 2006, trial court framed charges for offences under sections 354, 376/511 of RPC and the accused was put to trial. Later on 23 February 2017, the accused was acquitted and the then State government challenged the order before the High Court.

“It is a settled position of law that the prosecutrix( victim) in a case relating to sexual assault is the most important witness. It is also a settled position of law that testimony of a victim of sexual assault has to be ordinarily relied upon unless there are compelling reasons necessitating the need for its corroboration,” a bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar, said.

“If the Court finds that testimony of the prosecutrix in a case relating to sexual assault is reliable, conviction can be based upon it without insisting for corroboration.” As per the evidence on record, the court said, charge for offence under Section 354 RPC has been established against the accused.

“In the instant case,…….the trial Court has ignored and excluded the relevant material, as such, the judgment of acquittal deserves to be reversed,” the court said and allowed the appeal by holding the accused guilty for offence under Section 354 RPC.

However, having regard to the fact that the convicted person faced trial before the trial court for more than ten years and keeping in view the fact that there was nothing on record to show that he has any criminal background, the court said that he does not deserve to be sentenced to maximum punishment.

“By indulging in an abhorrent act of outraging modesty of the prosecutrix, the accused has shattered the trust and confidence of the prosecutrix,” the court said, adding, “Therefore, an adequate and appropriate punishment is required to be awarded against the accused.”

Subsequently the court sentenced him to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of four months and to pay a fine of Rs 10,000. “In default of payment of fine, the accused shall undergo a further imprisonment of similar description for a period of two months”.

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