The Meghalaya High Court while upholding the conviction of a man for committing rape or aggravated penetrative sexual assault has observed that trial courts should take steps for perjury when it disbelieves evidence of any person on cogent grounds. The bench further observed that such practices of producing false affidavits and evidences, may render the judiciary irrelevant if not taken seriously by the Judges.

After considering the factial matrix in the case, unrebutted contentions of the victim’s mother, and inconsistent testimonies of the defence witnesses, a bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh observed, “In the light of the appellant not asserting that the survivor had not come to the appellant’s residence on the relevant date, the afterthought on the basis of which the three defence witnesses were tutored and made to say in court that the survivor did not come to their residence, was obvious. In fact, in a situation like the present, the trial court upon disbelieving the evidence of any person on cogent grounds, should also take steps for perjury. Unless Indian judges get serious with litigants and witnesses, the present trend of false affidavits being filed and false evidence being given may one day render the judiciary irrelevant. In the light of the evidence that was before the trial court, including the completely believable statements of the survivor and her mother, there does not appear to be any error committed by the trial court in discarding the evidence sought to be adduced by the defence witnesses”.

Advocate S. Deb appeared for the appellant, and AAG B. Bhattacharjee appeared for the respondent.

In the present matter, the appellant was convicted under Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 read with Section 376(2) of the Penal Code, 1860 and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 10 years and fined Rs.40,000/-. In default of payment of the fine, the appellant was sentenced to further simple imprisonment for six months.

The victim was about four years and two months old on the date of the alleged incident on November 6, 2014. The first information report came to be lodged on November 8, 2014.

The accused-appellant however, denied all the offences, but did not deny his presence at the place of occurrence and the fact that the survivor had visited the place of occurrence at the relevant time.

The bench while noting the testimonies of the three defence witnesses, stated, “Indeed, the trial court was perfectly justified in disregarding the rather concocted version presented by the appellant’s mother in her desperate attempt to rescue her recalcitrant son. The deposition of the brother of the appellant can be disregarded since he admitted that he was not at the place of occurrence on the relevant date. The testimony of the maternal cousin sister of the appellant does not inspire any confidence for such statement to be relied upon and the consistent versions of the survivor’s pain and suffering to be disregarded”.

The bench also took note of the serious lapse in the investigation, when, despite the medical examiner at handing over the girl’s clothes to the police, the clothes were not sent for forensic examination. However, was also of the opinion that as the circumstances and evidence otherwise revealed the commission of the offence and the involvement of the appellant therein, the serious lapse on the part of the investigating agency mattered little.

Therefore, noting the observations made by the trial court in the matter, the bench was of the opinion that the trial court did consider all the relevant factors to find the appellant guilty. It further observed that the court was justified in its findings, and hence neither the judgment of conviction nor the sentence passed against the appellant called for interference.

Cause Title: King Victor Ch. Marak v. State of Meghalaya

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