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Monday, January 12, 2015

Not justified in converting the case to that of attempt to commit rape and recording order of conviction. We, therefore, set aside the judgment and order of conviction- CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.162 OF 2009 KRISHNA @ KRISHNAPPA …. Appellant Versus STATE OF KARNATAKA …. Respondent


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA


                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.162 OF 2009

      KRISHNA @ KRISHNAPPA                    …. Appellant


      STATE OF KARNATAKA                      …. Respondent

                               J U D G M E N T

      Uday U. Lalit, J.

      1.    This appeal arises out of judgment and  order  dated  10.06.2008
      passed   by the High Court  of  Karnataka  at  Bangalore  in  Criminal
      Appeal No.1360 of  2001  setting  aside  the  judgment  and  order  of
      acquittal passed by the Ld. XXV Additional Sessions  Judge,  Bangalore
      in Sessions Case NO.62 of 1994 and convicting the appellant herein for
      the offences punishable under Sections 376 read with Section  511  IPC
      and also under Section 341 IPC.

      2.    Crime No.48 of  1991  was  registered  with  Devanahalli  Police
      Station pursuant to FIR (Ext.P-9) lodged by PW-1 victim alleging  that
      on 06.03.1991 at about 4.00 PM while she was returning  from  the  bus
      stop of their village after having sent her husband and  son  to  sell
      silk  cocoons  at  Vijayapura,  the   present   appellant   wrongfully
      restrained her near eucalyptus grove, gagged her mouth and despite her
      protest had forcible sexual intercourse with her.  It was alleged that
      her screams attracted Muniyappa (PW-2) and Venkateshappa (PW-3) and on
      seeing  them  the  appellant  had  run  away  from  the  spot.    Upon
      registration  of  such  crime  PW-1  victim  was  sent   for   medical
      examination by Dr. Manjunath (PW-4) who however, found no signs of any
      sexual intercourse but found two abrasions on  the  forearms  of  PW-1
      victim.  The appellant was arrested and also medically examined.

      3.    After due investigation  the  charge-sheet  was  filed  and  the
      appellant was tried for having committed the offences punishable under
      Sections 376 and 341 IPC vide  Sessions  Case  No.62  of  1994.   PW-1
      victim in her  testimony  admitted  her  age  to  be  60  years.   She
      reiterated that she was  subjected  to  forcible  intercourse  by  the
      appellant.  Muniyappa (PW-2) supported her version, but  Venkateshappa
      (PW-3) turned hostile.  It was suggested to these witnesses  in  their
      cross-examination that the appellant was related to PW-1 victim,  that
      there were civil and criminal cases pending  between  the  parties  in
      support of which contention certified copies of  the  civil  suit  and
      criminal   cases   Ext.    D-1    and    D-2    were    also    filed.
      Dr.  Manjunath  (PW-4)  who  had  medically   examined   PW-1   victim
      specifically stated that nothing was found to show that the victim was
      subjected to sexual  intercourse.   Dr.  S.B.  Patil  (PW-5)  who  had
      examined the appellant stated the age of the  appellant  to  be  17-18

      4.    The learned trial court found that though PW-1 victim had stated
      that her sari was torn in the incident, said  sari  was  not  produced
      before the court, that as per PW-2 there were no eucalyptus  trees  in
      between the bus stop and the village, that though as per  the  version
      of PW-1 victim the incident lasted for about half an hour during which
      time she was trying to escape and had bitten the  right  hand  of  the
      appellant, the medical evidence did not support  such  assertions  and
      that because of civil and criminal cases pending between  the  parties
      the  possibility  of  false  implication  could  not  be  ruled   out.
      Considering the entire evidence on record learned  trial  court  found
      that the prosecution had failed to establish that  the  appellant  was
      guilty  of  the  offences  as  alleged.   The  learned  trial   court,
      therefore, by its judgment and order dated  06.08.2001  acquitted  the
      appellant of the charges leveled against him.

      5.    State of Karnataka carried the matter further by filing Criminal
      Appeal No.1360 of 2001 in the High Court of  Karnataka  at  Bangalore.
      The High Court observed that in view of the evidence of Dr.  Manjunath
      (PW-4) it was clear that the prosecution had failed to prove that  the
      appellant had sexual intercourse with PW-1  victim.   The  High  Court
      thus affirmed the acquittal of the appellant under  Section  376  IPC.
      However after considering the evidence of PWs-1 and 2 it found that it
      was proved beyond doubt that the appellant  had  attempted  to  commit
      rape on the victim.  The High Court thus convicted the  appellant  for
      the offence of attempt to commit rape  under  Section  376  read  with
      Section 511 IPC and also under  Section  341  IPC  and  sentenced  him
      suffer rigorous imprisonment for two  years  and  to  pay  a  fine  of
      Rs.1,000/-, in default whereof to undergo further imprisonment for one
      year under the first count and to suffer simple imprisonment  for  one
      month and payment of fine of Rs.3,000/-, in default whereof to  suffer
      further imprisonment for 15 days  for  the  offence  punishable  under
      Section 341 IPC.

      6.    The appellant being aggrieved preferred special leave to  appeal
      and this Court after grant of special leave to  appeal  also  directed
      vide order dated 13.04.2009 that the appellant  be  released  on  bail
      pending this appeal.

      7.    Mr. T. Prakash, learned advocate  appearing  for  the  appellant
      submitted that the view taken  by  the  learned  trial  court  in  the
      instant case was quite appropriate and justified.  In any case,  given
      the reasons in support of the judgment of  acquittal,  such  view  was
      definitely a possible view and in an appeal against acquittal the High
      Court was not justified in setting  aside  such  order  of  acquittal.
      Furthermore, the conviction under Section 376 read  with  Section  511
      IPC was also not justified.

            In Muralidhar @ Gidda & Anr. Vs. State of Karnataka reported  in
      (2014) 5  SCC  730  after  considering  various  authorities,  it  was
                 “……Suffice it to say that this Court has consistently  held
                 that  in  dealing  with  appeals  against  acquittal,   the
                 appellate court must bear in mind the following: (i)  There
                 is presumption of innocence in favour of an accused  person
                 and such  presumption  is  strengthened  by  the  order  of
                 acquittal passed in his favour by the trial court, (ii) The
                 accused person is entitled to  the  benefit  of  reasonable
                 doubt when it deals with the merit of  the  appeal  against
                 acquittal, (iii) Though, the power of the  appellate  court
                 in  considering  the  appeals  against  acquittal  are   as
                 extensive as its powers in appeals against convictions  but
                 the appellate court is generally loath  in  disturbing  the
                 finding of fact recorded by the  trial  court.   It  is  so
                 because the trial court had  an  advantage  of  seeing  the
                 demeanor of the witnesses.  If  the  trial  court  takes  a
                 reasonable view of the facts of the case,  interference  by
                 the appellate court with the judgment of acquittal  is  not
                 justified.  Unless, the conclusions reached  by  the  trial
                 court are palpably wrong or based on erroneous view of  the
                 law or if such conclusions are allowed to stand,  they  are
                 likely to result in grave injustice, the reluctance on  the
                 part of  the  appellate  court  in  interfering  with  such
                 conclusions is fully justified, and (iv) Merely because the
                 appellate court on re-appreciation and re-evaluation of the
                 evidence is inclined to take a different view, interference
                 with the judgment of acquittal is not justified if the view
                 taken by the trial court is a possible  view.   The  evenly
                 balanced views of the  evidence  must  not  result  in  the
                 interference by the appellate court in the judgment of  the
                 trial court.”

      8.    We have gone through the judgment of the  trial  court  and  the
      High Court and carefully perused the evidence on record.   It  may  be
      mentioned that as found by both the courts  below  the  offence  under
      Section 376 was not established at all.   The  reasons  given  by  the
      trial court while acquitting the appellant, in  our  view,  are  quite
      sound and in any case, such view is definitely a possible  view.   The
      conclusions reached by the trial court cannot be said to  be  palpably
      wrong or based on erroneous view  of  the  law,  so  as  to  call  for
      interference by the High Court.  In our considered view the High Court
      was not justified in converting the case to that of attempt to  commit
      rape and recording order of conviction.  We, therefore, set aside  the
      judgment and order of conviction passed by the High Court and  restore
      that of the  trial  court  acquitting  the  accused-appellant  of  the
      offences with which he was charged.  The appeal  is  allowed  and  the
      appellant is discharged of his bail bonds.

                                             (Dipak Misra)

                                             (Uday Umesh Lalit)

      New Delhi,
      November 14, 2014

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