The Orissa High Court recently upheld the conviction order passed by the Special Court against a father for raping and sexually assaulting his daughter and noted that the appellant being the father did not hesitate to commit such a preposterous and bestial act upon her minor daughter and could not have control over his lust and tried to quench the sexual thirst by exploiting her.

The Single Judge Bench of Justice S.K. Sahoo observed "This degrading act of the appellant stupefies the judicial conscience of this Court as it is unthinkable to even comprehend that in a country where women are traditionally viewed as an incarnation of the God and daughters are worshipped as 'Devi', such heinous acts are being committed by a father. A daughter needs a father to be the standard against which she will judge all men. When the father who is the creator of the girl child and supposed to act as her protector, takes the role of the predator, it would be a sheer betrayal of someone's trust and faith and has got a serious impact on humanity."

Advocate Rajib Lochan Pattnaik appeared for the Appellant while Advocate Manoranjan Mishra appeared for the Respondent State.

Background: The Appellant's father had filed a Jail Criminal Appeal before the High Court stating that due to the illicit relationship of his wife with his elder brother, a false case has been foisted upon him while the victim submitted that during the month of July 2015, when she was preparing the dinner, the appellant came and embraced her and touched different parts of her body by his hands and further for committing rape, the father tried to undress the victim and touched her breasts and private parts.

It was also submitted that during the night, the appellant slept near the victim, made her naked and inserted his finger into her private part (vagina) for which she cried. Such a thing was done repeatedly and the appellant used to sexually exploit the victim in spite of her protest and he was not only touching different parts of the body of the victim but also inserting his finger into her private parts.

The Special Court, POCSO, found the father guilty of the offences under sections 354/354A(2)/354B/376(2)(f)(i)(k)(n) of the I.P.C. as well as sections 6 and 10 of the POCSO Act and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for ten years.

While the Amicus Curiae appointed by the High Court submitted that there had been an inordinate delay in lodging the F.I.R. for almost seven months after the date of occurrence and that in the 164 Cr.P.C. statement, the victim has not stated about the commission of rape on her and therefore, her evidence in Court in that respect is not acceptable.

Considering the merits of the case, the High Court on the aspect of delay in lodging of F.I.R. stated that "In a case of this nature where the perpetrator of the crime is none else than the father of the prosecutrix, the reputation and prestige of the family so also the future of the prosecutrix was at stake, it was not at all unnatural on the part of the family members to have deliberations among themselves before lodging the F.I.R."

Further, on the aspect of discrepancy in the that in the 164 Cr.P.C. statement, the High Court stated "Since the previous statement of the victim has not been confronted to her by the learned defence counsel and the victim has got no opportunity to explain the same, I am not inclined to accept the contention raised by the Amicus Curiae appearing for the appellant that in view of the absence of specific statement under section 164 of the Cr.P.C. indicating insertion of finger into her private parts, the appellant should be acquitted of the charge under section 376 of the I.P.C."

Ultimately, finding no merits in the appeal the Judge said that similarly in view of the definition of 'rape' under section 375 of the I.P.C., the insertion of a finger into the vagina of a woman would also attract the ingredients of the offence. "The Almighty God resides where women are worshipped. Where women are honoured, divinity blossoms there. It highlights the importance of how women should be treated with dignity and respect. There is no doubt that being in a position of authority and trust, the appellant misused his position and sexually exploited his innocent minor daughter and raped her. Thus, the ingredients under section 376(2)(f) are made out in this case", read the Judgement.

Accordingly, the Appeal being devoid of merits was dismissed.

Cause Title: Tikiri Behera v. State of Odisha [JCRLA No.75 OF 2019]

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