Law Intern’s Rape Case: “It Would Have A Chilling Effect On The Entire Practice And Profession”- Karnataka HC Refuses To Quash Case Against Advocate
The Karnataka High Court has refused to quash the case against an Advocate accused of raping a law intern on the ground that it would have a chilling effect on the entire practice and profession.
The Court was dealing with a plea preferred by the accused questioning the proceedings pending before the JMFC and registration of offences punishable under Sections 376, 376(2)(f), 376(2)(k), 376C(a), 511, 354A, 354B, 354C, 354D, 506, 384, 388, 389, 204, 203, 212, 120B, 179, 202, and 149 of the IPC.
A Single Bench of Justice M. Nagaprasanna held, “Judged from these spectrum and analysed on the aforesaid prismatic analysis, the irresistible conclusion, is that there is no warrant of interference at the hands of this Court at this juncture, to intervene, interdict or obliterate those allegations of rape, preparation and attempt for an offence against the petitioner, as any interference by this Court would be rendering plaudits to the wanton lust and vicious appetite of the petitioner. If a naive student of law, enters the office of an Advocate, as an intern; in turn gets to face these horrendous acts, it would have a chilling effect on the entire practice and profession.”
The Bench finding no merit in the petition said that it is for the accused to come out clean in a full-blown trial.
Advocate Parameshwar N. Hegde appeared for the petitioner/accused while HCGP K.P. Yashodha and Advocate Sophia appeared for the State and complainant respectively i.e., the respondents.
Brief Facts -
The petitioner was a practicing Advocate and as per the prosecution, the complainant, a second-year law student got to know the petitioner through her classmate and friend. She was in requirement of a work-cum-internship and hence, his classmate introduced her to his brother-in-law who was in contact with the petitioner. The complainant, therefore, joined the office of the petitioner and he narrated the job indicating that she had to stay up to 8:00 p.m. The job began, days passed by, and the petitioner befriended the complainant by communication through WhatsApp messages.
It was alleged that the petitioner used to send CCTV footage and pictures of the complainant and was continuously watching her private movements. The petitioner did not reply to his inappropriate messages and one evening when there was no one in the office except himself and the complainant, it was then he called her into the cabin, pulled her hands, and kissed her on the forehead. He held her tight, made her sit on his lap, began to unbutton her and moved his hands on her private parts, and started undressing himself. The complainant traumatized by the said act pushed him and ran out and while so doing, he threatened her that if she would reveal anything, everyone would see her dead body.
The High Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case observed, “… if the ingredients of the complaint are seen, the petitioner fits in all these positions. He is in the position of a teacher or in a position of trust over a complainant. In terms of Section 376(2)(k) he is in position of control or dominance and in terms of Section 376C(a) he is in position of authority, as the complainant was an intern working under the petitioner. It is to be seen whether being in that position the petitioner has committed an act of rape.”
The Court further observed that the crux of the allegations of the case are required to be re-noticed and that the incident narrated in the complaint has several hues.
“The petitioner pulls the hands of the complainant; kisses her; holds her tight; forcefully makes her sit on his lap; presses against her chest; whispered in her ear “love you and want to have you” grabbed the face; removed spectacles, forcibly tried to unbutton her; grabbed her breasts; pressed buttocks and touched all her private parts with bare hands. During all these the victim would clearly notice erection of penis of the petitioner. The narration does not remain only in the complaint. But, Section 164 Cr.P.C. statement supra is a vindication of the narration in the complaint”, noted the Court.
The Court said that whether the same would be preparation and attempt which is a thin line of difference, and they would require evidence as to what was the subsequent action, after preparation and attempt, and that this would be in the realm of disputed question of fact.
“The narration or what has happened would again be in the realm of disputed questions of fact. The CCTV footage and the voice sample, inter alia which are all the charge sheet material would be a matter of evidence with regard to preparation and attempt. Therefore, these matters would be in the territory of seriously disputed questions of fact, as the incident has three ingredients – intention, preparation, an attempt and whether commission has happened or not is the 4th stage, which would be a matter of evidence”, also noted the Court.
The Court declined to examine the commission of offence based on the chargesheet and statements made by the witnesses.
“In the teeth of what is afore-narrated interference at this stage, is not called for. … In the light of the aforesaid judgments of the Apex Court, in the considered view of this Court, it is a matter of evidence, in a full blown trial for the petitioner to come out clean”, said the Court.
The Court added that the concerned court is yet to frame charges and there is no reason to believe that it would not apply its mind while framing charges.
“It is made clear that the observations made in the course of the order are only for the purpose of consideration of the case of the petitioner under Section 482 of Cr.P.C. and the same shall not bind or influence the proceedings pending against him before the concerned Court”, clarified the Court.
Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the plea.
Cause Title- Rajesh K.S.N. v. State & Anr.