Consistent Statement Of Victim As To Penetrative Sexual Assault Not To Be Disregarded Just Because DNA Of Male Organ Was Not Found In FSL Records: Delhi HC
While upholding the conviction of a man who was found guilty of sexually assaulting a minor girl, the Delhi High Court emphasized the importance of the victim's testimony in such cases, noting that medical evidence is not necessarily conclusive.
The High Court held that the Trial Court has rightly observed that minor contradictions or insignificant discrepancies in the statement of the victim should not be a ground for throwing out an otherwise reliable prosecution case. In the present case, the victim is only a seven year old child.
The present appeal had aimed to overturn the judgment dated July 22, 2019, in which the appellant was found guilty under Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) and Section 342 of IPC.
A Single Judge Bench of Justice Jasmeet Singh observed that “it is imperative that all the evidence surrounding the case is taken as a whole. Consistent and reliable statements of the victim and her mother regarding the incident of penetrative sexual assault cannot be disregarded merely on the ground that FSL records that “DNA of male organ could not be generated”.
Advocate Manu Sharma appeared for the Appellant, whereas Advocate Aashneet Singh appeared for the Respondent.
As per the brief facts, the case involved a widow, who supported her family by doing odd jobs. On Dec 8, 2014, she observed her daughter (victim) playing outside their house. However, later, her daughter disappeared from the street. The complainant traced her daughter to the residence of the appellant, a place the victim frequently visited. She knocked on the door persistently and heard her daughter crying from inside the room. When she asked her daughter about the incident, the victim revealed that the appellant had committed penetrative sexual assault upon her.
After considering the submission, the Bench referred to the case of Appabhai and Another v. State of Gujarat [1988 Supp SCC 241] and noted that discrepancies which do not shake the basic version of the prosecution case may be discarded.
The Bench observed that the alleged inconsistencies by the appellant, related to whether the victim was sitting on a cot or playing outside, her interactions with friends, the presence of other individuals in the room, or the disparities between statements made by the victim's mother and the victim's statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, did not cast doubt on the credibility of the prosecution's narrative.
The Bench further found from the statements of the victim and the complainant that the fundamental narrative concerning the commission of the offense remained consistent and aligned with each other.
The Bench emphasized that mere existence of lapses or errors in the investigation conducted by the investigating officer does not automatically grant the accused the right to seek acquittal, and noted that the court bears the primary responsibility for assessing the case and thoroughly examining all the evidence presented.
The Bench also cited the case of Satyapal v. State of Haryana [(2009) 6 SCC 635], wherein it was observed that to constitute the offence of rape it was not necessary that there should be complete penetration of penis with emission of semen and rupture of hymen, and partial penetration of the penis within the labia majora or the vulva or pudenda with or without emission of semen or even an attempt at penetration was quite sufficient for the purpose of the law.
Regarding the argument related to the FSL report, which indicated that nothing was detected on the exhibits and that DNA from a male organ could not be generated, the Bench expressed that while medical opinion is important, it is not necessarily conclusive evidence, and that medical reports, while extremely important in the realm of jurisprudence, may occasionally fall short of complete accuracy.
The Bench also concurred with the Trial Court's observation that no mother would risk her daughter's reputation by falsely implicating the appellant and coaching her to provide a statement about penetrative sexual assault if it were not true.
Consequently, the High Court find no infirmity in the conclusions reached by the Trial Court and noted that the victim had provided a detailed account of the incident, stating that the appellant had unlawfully confined her in his room and committed penetrative sexual assault.
Therefore, the Trial Court's determination that the appellant was guilty of the offenses under Section 342 of the IPC and Section 6 of the POCSO Act was deemed appropriate.
Cause Title: Arun Kumar Shukla v. State