By Akanksha Singh
In the Supreme Court of India
|NAME OF THE CASE||OM PRAKASH VS. DIL BAHAR|
|CITATION||Appeal (civil) 7040 of 2000|
|DATE OF JUDGMENT||19 May, 2006|
|APPELANT||Om Prakash & Ors.|
|RESPONDENT||Dil Bahar & ors.|
|BENCH/JUDGE||Dr. Ar. Lakshmanan, Lokeshwar Singh Panta|
|STATUTES/CONSTITUTION INVOLVED||Indian Penal Code Criminal Procedure Code, 1973|
|IMPORTANT SECTIONS/ARTICLES||Indian Penal Code- Section 376, 228A Criminal Procedure Code – Section 313|
The following is a quick examination of the case of Om Prakash v. State of Uttar Pradesh appeal (crl.) 629 of 2006. This case is considered a landmark case because a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India held that when a person commits rape on a woman “knowing that she is pregnant,” the accused can only be convicted if it is proven that she is pregnant, otherwise the accused will only be convicted for rape, and the Supreme Court reached its final decision based on this statement. Furthermore, the court ruled that a person accused of rape can now only be convicted based on the victim’s evidence, even if the medical reports did not indicate rape. There was mention of ‘corroboration,’ and the court made it plain that it would be required only if there was any doubt about its authenticity.
This case is a Criminal Appeal No. 629 of 2006. This case is regarding rape where Om Prakash (victim’s relative/ appellant) tried to rape the pregnant woman (victim/ respondent).
FACT OF THE CASE
The victim was a pregnant woman who had been summoned to court along with her husband, who had been detained for challan proceedings. The accused was a relative of the victim’s parents who had come to attend the same. In this instance, the accused was also a relative of the victim’s spouse. During the course of the proceedings, the accused approached the victim’s husband’s brother to enquire about the release of the challan. Taking advantage of this chance, the accused dragged the girl to the Zila Parishad’s verandah near the court and attempted to rape her.
The victim raised an alarm, and the culprit was attacked and transported to the police station, where a FIR was filed. Based on the victim’s and eyewitnesses’ statements, the trial and the High Court convicted the accused and sentenced him to ten years in jail under Section 376 (2) of the Indian Penal Code 1860 for raping a pregnant lady. The Supreme Court denied the accused’s appeal. The sentence was lowered from 10 years to 7 years due to the lack of any positive evidence of the crime.
ISSUES RAISED BEFORE THE COURT
The question was whether the accused’s conviction was lawful under Section 376 (2). The Supreme Court also inquired if the accused was aware that the victim was pregnant and chose to base its conclusion on this.
ARGUMENTS RAISED BY THE APPELLATE
- Learned counsel for the appellant questions the legality of a judgement delivered by a learned Single Judge of the Allahabad High Court, Lucknow Bench regarding the appellant’s conviction for an offence punishable under Section 376(2)(e) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which was recorded by a learned VI Additional Sessions Judge, Hardoi and a sentence of ten years imprisonment was awarded.
- In the instant matter, it is an admitted position that because of the animosity, the accused was involved. He added that he had travelled from the hamlet with the victim’s brother and other individuals to take action. He even worked late into the night at the police station. He had borrowed money for the same purpose. When the challan arrived, they halted at Bilgram Chungi, where a struggle erupted between the accused, PW-2, and the victim’s father over the repayment of the money. They assaulted the accused, and as a result, he became embroiled in the criminal case.
- Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the prosecution’s account is patently implausible. It’s unfathomable that the accused, who had gone to assist the victim’s husband in obtaining bail, would try to rap her in broad daylight. In any case, it was argued that the prerequisites of Section 376(2)(e) had not been proven.
ARGUMENTS RAISED BY THE RESPONDENT
- Learned counsel for the respondent submitted that the day before the event, Sursa police detained Ram Saran, the victim’s husband (PW-1) and brought him before the court for challan proceedings. Om Prakash (accused) knew the victim’s parents and met them in the courtroom. Jaipal (PW-2) Ram Saran’s brother was also present, as was the victim, and she was speaking with him about her husband’s bail. Om Prakash dispatched Jaipal to enquire whether or not the challan had arrived. Later, about 3 p.m., the accused grabbed the victim and began raping her in the veranda of the Zila Parishad, which is close to the Court.
- Learned counsel for the respondent submitted that when the woman raised an alarm, Jaipal and Ram Lal arrived and beat Om Prakash, who was raping her, and Om Prakash was arrested. The victim provided oral information, which was recorded as Chik number 126 Exhibit A-1, and the case was registered after an entry was made in the general journal. Dr. Purnima Srivastava (PW-3) conducted an inside examination of the victim’s body, and the medical report was designated as Exhibit A-2, while the supplemental report was marked as Exhibit A-3. Dr. P.K. Gangwar (PW-4) conducted the accused’s medical examination, and the report was designated as Exhibit A-4. In the police station, the accused’s underwear was seized, and the seizure memo was marked as Exhibit A-6, and the victim’s petticoat was seized, and the seizure note was marked as Exhibit A-7. Shri Mahesh Lal Vadhuria (PW-6) led the inquiry and drew out a map of the area where the event happened (Exhibit A-8). Chemical analysis was performed on the accused’s underpants and the victim’s petticoat (Exhibit A-21). After the inquiry was concluded, a charge sheet was submitted against Om Prakash, and the matter was handed to the sessions court’s Chief Judicial Magistrate, Hardoi.
- Learned counsel for the respondent submitted that Om Prakash was accused under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code. However, he refused to accept the allegations and wanted a trial. The prosecution interrogated the victim (PW-1), Jaipal (PW-2), Dr. Smt. Purnima Srivastava (PW-3), Dr. P.K. Gangwar (PW-4), Shri Uttam Kumar (PW-5), Shri Mahesh Lal Vadhuria (PW-6) and head constable Shri Jitendra Singh to corroborate its story (PW-7).
- Indian Penal Code
- Section 228A: Disclosure of identity of the victim of certain offences etc.—
(1) Whoever prints or publishes the name or any matter which may make known the identity of any person against whom an offence under section 376, section 376A, section 376B, section 376C or section 376D is alleged or found to have been committed (hereafter in this section referred to as the victim) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine.
(2) Nothing in sub-section (1) extends to any printing or publication of the name or any matter which may make known the identity of the victim if such printing or publication is—
(a) by or under the order in writing of the officer-in-charge of the police station or the police officer making the investigation into such offence acting in good faith for the purposes of such investigation; or
(b) by, or with the authorisation in writing of, the victim; or
(c) where the victim is dead or minor or of unsound mind, by, or with the authorisation in writing of, the next of kin of the victim: Provided that no such authorisation shall be given by the next of kin to anybody other than the chairman or the secretary, by whatever name called, of any recognised welfare institution or organisation. Explanation.—For the purposes of this sub-section, “recognised welfare institution or organisation” means a social welfare institution or organisation recognised in this behalf by the Central or State Government.
(3) Whoever prints or publishes any matter in relation to any proceeding before a court with respect to an offence referred to in sub-section (1) without the previous permission of such Court shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine. Explanation.—The printing or publication of the judgment of any High Court or the Supreme Court does not amount to an offence within the meaning of this section.]
- Section 376: Punishment for rape.—
(1) Whoever, except in the cases provided for by sub-section (2), commits rape shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than seven years but which may be for life or for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine unless the women raped is his own wife and is not under twelve years of age, in which cases, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both: Provided that the court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less than seven years.
(a) being a police officer commits rape—
(i)within the limits of the police station to which he is appointed; or
(ii)in the premises of any station house whether or not situated in the police station to which he is appointed; or
(iii) on a woman in his custody or in the custody of a police officer subordinate to him; or
(b) being a public servant, takes advantage of his official position and commits rape on a woman in his custody as such public servant or in the custody of a public servant subordinate to him; or
(c) being on the management or on the staff of a jail, remand home or other place of custody established by or under any law for the time being in force or of a woman’s or children’s institution takes advantage of his official position and commits rape on any inmate of such jail, remand home, place or institution; or
(d) being on the management or on the staff of a hospital, takes advantage of his official position and commits rape on a woman in that hospital; or
(e) commits rape on a woman knowing her to be pregnant; or
(f)commits rape on a woman when she is under twelve years of age; or
(g) commits gang rape, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may be for life and shall also be liable to fine: Provided that the Court may, for adequate and special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment, impose a sentence of imprisonment of either description for a term of less than ten years. Explanation 1.—Where a woman is raped by one or more in a group of persons acting in furtherance of their common intention, each of the persons shall be deemed to have committed gang rape within the meaning of this sub-section. Explanation 2.—“Women’s or children’s institution” means an institution, whether called an orphanage or a home for neglected woman or children or a widows’ home or by any other name, which is established and maintained for the reception and care of woman or children. Explanation 3.—“Hospital” means the precincts of the hospital and includes the precincts of any institution for the reception and treatment of persons during convalescence or of persons requiring medical attention or rehabilitation.]
- Criminal Procedure Code
- Section 313: Power to examine the accused.
(1) In every inquiry or trial, for the purpose of enabling the accused personally to explain any circumstances appearing in the evidence against him, the Court-
(a) may at any stage, without previously warning the accused, put such questions to him as the Court considers necessary;
(b) shall, after the witnesses for the prosecution have been examined and before he is called on for his defence, question him generally on the case: Provided that in a summons- case, where the Court has dispensed with the personal attendance of the accused, it may also dispense with his examination under clause (b).
(2)No oath shall be administered to the accused when he is examined under sub- section (1).
(3) The accused shall not render himself liable to punishment by refusing to answer such questions, or by giving false answers to them.
(4) The answers given by the accused may be taken into consideration in such inquiry or trial, and put in evidence for or against him in any other inquiry into, or trial for, any other offence which such answers may tend to show he has committed.
It is already the rule that the victim cannot be regarded an accomplice to the crime of sexual assault, and her account does not require confirmation from any other evidence, even that of a doctor. Even if the doctor concludes that the evidence does not support a rape attempt, the victim’s account cannot be discounted. In normal circumstances, it takes a great deal of courage for a victim of sexual assault to come out and discuss the crime with her family, let alone the public.
According to the judges, Indian women tend to conceal such a crime since it is associated with her and her family’s status, and she would be remembered as the lady who was raped or abused for the rest of her life. Only on rare occasions do the victim and her family travel to the police station and register a complaint against the wrongdoer. In the particular situation, the victim’s argument was that falsely accusing the accused did not appeal to any logic. There is no logical motive for a married woman to falsely incriminate the accused once her image and reputation have been harmed.
A judgement always has a good and bad aspect. It also exists in the current situation. Rapists deserve the harshest sentence imaginable, and this decision has made it far more difficult for them to flee. The decision is founded on the idea that the victim is not a co-conspirator in the crime and that her statement or evidence should be trusted. Only when the court is unable to rely only on the prosecutrix’s account does the necessity for corroboration arise.
While the preceding statement is correct, it should be noted that this rule can be abused, with disastrous results for the accused. The regulation that allows a person to be convicted even if medical evidence shows that the crime did not occur makes fraudulent rape cases considerably simpler to file. Furthermore, Supreme Court justices presume that all Indian women are pure and virtuous, capable of doing no wrong. This decision, however, might be viewed as a necessary and constructive move in a country where women have long been subjected to persecution. Even if the victim was able to open up to her family, the members of the family often discouraged her from filing a complaint for fear of the implications on their image and status in society. Aside from that, it’s evident that rapists in this nation (as well as many intelligent people) need to rewire their thinking on the subje
 Author is 4th semester student of ICFAI University, Dehradun.
 Section 228A In the Indian Penal Code, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1696350/
 Section 376 in the Indian Penal Code, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1279834/
 Section 313 in the Criminal Procedure code, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/767287/