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Patna High Court Acquits Rape Accused Stresses Victim’s Statement Under Section 164 CrPC Cannot be Sole Basis for Conviction

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Published on: November 20, 2023 at 11:28 IST

The Patna High Court acquitted a rape accused, asserting that the statement of the victim recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) cannot be the exclusive grounds for conviction.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Justice Gunnu Anupama Chakravarthy emphasized, “Though the accused is capable of engaging in a sexual act, that alone cannot establish guilt for the charged offenses. In the absence of substantive oral evidence corroborated with medical evidence, it can be construed that the appellant shall be presumed innocent of the charged offenses.”

The bench added, “The decision relied upon by the Learned counsel for the appellant squarely applies to the facts of the case. The statement of the victim recorded under Section 164 of the Cr.P.C. can be used for corroboration or contradiction but cannot be a sole basis for conviction.”

The acquittal came in an appeal filed by the accused challenging the judgment of conviction passed by the Additional District and Sessions Judge. The appellant was convicted for offenses under Section 376(2)(f), 377 of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 4 of the POCSO Act.

The complainant, the father of the victim, alleged that the accused, residing near their residence, sexually assaulted his 7-year-old daughter after taking her to his house.

Upon examining the evidence, the High Court noted the absence of eyewitnesses to the incident. The victim turned hostile and did not support the prosecution’s case.

The credibility of other witnesses was also questioned. The Court stated that the medical evidence was not aligned with oral evidence, leading to the benefit of doubt being extended to the appellant.

The Court emphasized, “The prosecution has miserably failed to prove that the accused committed sexual assault/rape on the victim girl either on her genitals or of anal penetration on the victim who was aged below 7 years. Further, the medical evidence does not reveal about the unnatural offense to attract the punishment under Section 377 of the I.P.C.”

The Court found no evidence on record to prove the offenses under Section 376(2)(f) or 377 of the IPC and set aside the appellant’s conviction under Section 4 of the POCSO Act. The Court discredited the trial court’s reliance on the 164 statement as the sole basis for concluding that the accused committed rape.

Consequently, the Court declared the appellant’s release from jail, emphasizing that there was no sustainable evidence for the convictions.

Case Title: Satyamanu Kumar Singh vs. The State of Bihar