The Patna High Court, while acquitting a rape accused, observed that the statement of victim recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) cannot be the sole basis for conviction.

An appeal was filed by the accused against the judgment of conviction passed by the Additional District and Sessions Judge that convicted him for the offences punishable under Sections 376(2)(f) and 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under Section 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

A Division Bench of Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Justice Gunnu Anupama Chakravarthy observed, “Though, accused is capable of doing sexual act, that itself cannot prove the guilt for the charged offences. In the absence of the substantive oral evidence corroborated with medical evidence, it can be construed that the appellant shall presumed to be innocent of the charged offences...The statement of victim recorded under Section 164 of the Cr.P.C. can be used for corroboration or contradiction, but cannot be a sole basis for conviction.”

Senior Advocate Bindhyachal Singh appeared for the appellant while APP Shasi Bala Verma appeared for the respondent.

In this case, victim's father had complained that the accused - appellant who lived next to their house took his daughter/victim, aged about 7 years, to his house and raped her. On the basis of this complaint, an FIR was registered under Section 376 of the I.P.C. During the investigation, the victim was referred to medical examination and later the 164 Cr.P.C. statement of the victim was recorded. Later, a charge-sheet was filed against the accused for the offence punishable under Sections 376 and 377 of the I.P.C. Later, the Sessions Court convicted the accused under 376(2)(f) and Section 377 of the I.P.C. and also under Section 4 of the POCSO Act..

In appeal, the High Cour said, “On perusal of the entire evidence, it is evident that there are no eye witnesses to the incident. The victim herself has turned hostile and did not support the case of the prosecution. Furthermore, the presence of the other witnesses is doubtful. P.W. 7 the father of the victim himself stated that he did not speak with the victim after the alleged incident. Furthermore, the medical evidence is not corroborated with the oral evidence, therefore, benefit of doubt has to be extended to the appellant.”

The Court further noted that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove that the accused has committed sexual assault/rape on the victim girl either on her genitals or of anal penetration on the victim who was aged below 7 years and that the medical evidence do not reveal about the unnatural offence in order to attract the punishment under Section 377 of the I.P.C.

“There is no iota of evidence on record to prove that the appellant has committed the offences punishable under section 376(2)(f) or 377 of the I.P.C. … the appellant’s conviction for the offence punishable under Section 4 of POCSO Act applying Section 29 thereof also cannot be sustained”, added the Court.

Accordingly, the High Court set aside the conviction of the appellant.

Cause Title- Satyamanu Kumar Singh v. The State of Bihar

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