The Delhi High Court has set aside, after 15 years, the conviction of a man for allegedly raping his stepdaughter, saying that since her story is found to be improbable and inconsistent, the case is liable to be rejected.

Justice Chandra Dhari Singh stated that the Appellant convict, who spent more than four years in custody and was awarded rigorous imprisonment for eight years by the Trial Court, was entitled to the benefit of doubt as the deposition of the prosecutrix did not inspire confidence.

The Judge was of the opinion that no firm opinion was given in the medical report on the prosecutrix being raped and there were contradictions in her statements recorded at different stages of investigation, enquiry and trial.

The Court added that even the forensic report stated that the semen of the Appellant was not found on the clothes of the prosecutrix.

"This Court is of the view that the given facts and circumstances make it crystal clear that if the evidence of the prosecutrix is read and considered in totality of the circumstances along with other evidence on record, in which the offence is alleged to have been committed, her deposition does not inspire confidence. The prosecution has not disclosed the true genesis of the crime. In such a fact situation, the Appellant becomes entitled to the benefit of doubt," the Court said in its order dated December 23.

"The conviction can be based on sole testimony of the prosecutrix provided it lends assurance of her testimony. However, in case the Court has reason not to accept the version of the prosecutrix on its face value, it may look for corroboration. In case the evidence is read in its totality and the story projected by the prosecutrix is found to be improbable, the prosecutrix's case becomes liable to be rejected," it added.

The Court, in its order, also noted that from the evidence on record, it emerged that the prosecutrix was "raised as a daughter since childhood by the Appellant" who had tried to stop her from meeting a local boy with whom she was having an affair and subsequently married.

"The impugned judgment dated 18th July, 2006 and order on sentence dated 20th July 2006 passed by the learned Additional Sessions Judge, New Delhi, wherein the appellant/accused was convicted for the offence punishable under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 is set aside," the Court ordered.

The Appellant, currently on bail, challenged his conviction on the ground that the mere perfunctory and weak reiteration by the prosecutrix of her version before the trial court was not enough to convict him in the absence of any corroboration.

The Appellant emphasized that there was no explanation as to how the absence of his wife/prosecutrix's mother was ensured during the alleged repeated transgressions in a one-room house.

He claimed that the criminal case of rape was initiated under the influence of the boy the prosecutrix was having an affair with.

With PTI Inputs