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Friday, September 23, 2016

In Mobarik Ali Ahmed vs. The State of Bombay AIR 1957 SC 857, this Court has held as under:- “11…..Learned counsel objected to this approach on a question of proof. We are, however, unable to see any objection. The proof of the genuineness of a document is proof of the authorship of the document and is proof of a fact like that of any other fact. The evidence relating thereto may be direct or circumstantial. It may consist of direct evidence of a person who saw the document being written or the signature being affixed. It may be proof of the handwriting of the contents, or of the signature, by one of the modes provided in Sections 45 and 47 of the Indian Evidence Act. It may also be proved by internal evidence afforded by the contents of the document. This last mode of proof by the contents may be of considerable value where the disputed document purports to be a link in a chain of correspondence, some links in which are proved to the satisfaction of the court. In such a situation the person who is the recipient of the document, be it either a letter or a telegram, would be in a reasonably good position both with reference to his prior knowledge of the writing or the signature of the alleged sender limited though it may be, as also his knowledge of the subject matter of the chain of correspondence, to speak to its authorship. In an appropriate case the court may also be in a position to judge whether the document constitutes a genuine link in the chain of correspondence and thus to determine its authorship. We are unable, therefore, to say that the approach adopted by the courts below in arriving at the conclusion that the letters are genuine is open to any serious legal objection. The question, if any, can only be as to the adequacy of the material on which the conclusion as to the genuineness of the letters is arrived at. That however is a matter which we cannot permit to be canvassed before us.- It is thus clear that uncorroborated evidence of a hand writing expert is an extremely weak type of evidence and the same should not be relied upon either for the conviction or for acquittal. ; adverse inference against the prosecution can be drawn only if it withholds certain evidence and not merely on account of its failure to obtain certain evidence.; It is not necessary that all those persons who were present at the spot must be examined by the prosecution in order to prove the guilt of the accused. Having examined all the witnesses, even if other persons present nearby not examined, the evidence of eye-witness cannot be discarded.; mitigating factors which are - old age of the appellant-accused, health ailments, responsibility of looking after the unmarried daughter suffering from congenital heart disease, past meritorious service and prolonged trial. Keeping in view the aforementioned factors especially the old age and physical condition of the appellant-accused, we do not think it expedient to put him back in jail. While we uphold the findings as to the guilt of the appellant-accused, we are of the opinion that the cause of justice would be best sub-served when the sentence of the appellant-accused would be altered to the period already undergone. We, therefore, reduce the sentence of the appellant to the period already undergone by him as a special case considering his very advanced age.

                                     REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

1                  CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 2126 OF 2010



S.P.S. Rathore                                      .... Appellant(s)

            Versus

C.B.I. & Anr.
.... Respondent(s)






2

                   J U D G M E N T

R.K. Agrawal, J.
1)    This appeal has been  filed  against  the  judgment  and  order  dated
01.09.2010 passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at  Chandigarh  in
Criminal Revision No. 1558 of 2010 whereby learned single Judge of the  High
Court dismissed the revision petition filed by the appellant herein.
2)    Brief facts:
(a)    SPS  Rathore-the  appellant-accused,  a  member  of  the  prestigious
service of the country, was  on  deputation  with  Bhakhra  Beas  Management
Board (BBMB), Chandigarh as Director (Vigilance & Security) at the  relevant
time.  He also founded the Haryana Lawn Tennis  Association  (HLTA)  in  the
year 1988.
(b)   The office of HLTA was established in the garage  of  House  No.  469,
Sector 6, Panchkula, an under construction building owned by the  appellant-
accused which was divided into three  portions  wherein  front  portion  was
being used as the office of HLTA and  the  other  two  portions  were  being
utilized by T. Thomas and Kuldeep Singh, Coach and Manager  respectively  of
the Association for residential  purposes.   HLTA  enrolled  several  member
players who were mostly nearby residents of Panchkula on payment of  monthly
subscription.
(c)   Ms. Ruchika (since deceased), daughter of Shri S.C. Girhotra  and  Ms.
Aradhana @ Reemu, daughter of Shri Anand  Prakash  and  Madhu  Prakash  (the
complainant),  both  aged  about  15  years,  residents  of  Panchkula   got
themselves enrolled as members of the HLTA.  Both of them were good  friends
and used to go together for practice at the Tennis  court.   The  appellant-
accused was also a frequent visitor to the  said  Tennis  court.   One  day,
when Ms. Ruchika  informed  the  appellant-accused  about  her  plan  to  go
abroad,  the  appellant-accused  met  her  father-Shri  S.C.   Girhotra   on
11.08.1990 in order to persuade him to not to send his daughter out  of  the
country for specialized tennis coaching and promised that  special  coaching
would be arranged for her at HLTA itself and also asked him to send  Ruchika
to his office on the very  next  day  in  connection  with  the  same.  Shri
Girhotra informed the same to his daughter-Ruchika and  asked  her  to  meet
the appellant-accused in his office on 12.08.1990.
(d)   On 12.08.1990, Ms. Ruchika visited the house of Ms. Aradhana and  told
her about the visit of the appellant-accused to her house and also  that  he
had called her in his office.  When both of  them  were  practicing  in  the
tennis  court,  Paltoo-the  ball  picker,  informed  Ms.  Ruchika  that  the
appellant-accused had called her in his office.   Accordingly,  Ms.  Ruchika
along with Ms. Aradhana went to meet the appellant-accused who was  standing
outside the office at that particular point of time.  The  appellant-accused
insisted them to come inside the office. On his insistence, both  the  girls
went inside the office.  The appellant-accused got fetched one  chair  which
was occupied by Ms. Aradhana and Ms. Ruchika  kept  standing  on  the  right
side of Ms. Aradhana while the appellant-accused sat in his chair which  was
on the  other  side  of  the  table.  The  appellant-accused  requested  Ms.
Aradhana to call for Mr. Thomas-the Coach.  Accordingly, Ms.  Aradhana  went
outside leaving behind the appellant-accused and Ms. Ruchika in the  office.
 Ms. Aradhana asked the person who fetched the chair for her in  the  office
to inform the  Coach  to  come  to  the  office  of  the  appellant-accused.
However, the Coach refused to come.
(e)   Immediately thereafter, when Ms. Aradhana returned to the office,  she
witnessed that Ms. Ruchika was in the grip  of  the  appellant-accused,  who
was holding one hand of Ruchika in his hand and his other  hand  was  around
her waist.  The appellant-accused was pulling her towards his  chest  so  as
to embrace her and Ruchika was trying to push him back with her  free  hand.

(f)   On seeing Ms. Aradhana (PW-13), the appellant-accused  got  frightened
and released Ms. Ruchika and  fell  on  his  chair.   The  appellant-accused
asked Ms. Aradhana to go out of his room  again  and  personally  bring  the
coach with her.   The appellant-accused insisted  Ruchika  to  stay  in  his
room, but she somehow managed to escape.  When  Aradhana  was  about  to  go
behind Ruchika, the appellant-accused told her “Ask  her  to  cool  down,  I
will do whatever she will say”.  After listening to this, Ms. Aradhana  also
ran behind Ms. Ruchika to enquire about  the  matter.   Thereafter,  Ruchika
narrated the whole incident  to  her.   After  discussion,  both  the  girls
decided not to inform the same to their parents  as  the  appellant-accused,
being IG of  Police,  could  involve  or  harass  them  and  their  parents.

(g)   On 14.08.1990, Ms. Ruchika along with Ms. Aradhana went  to  the  lawn
tennis court at about 4:30 p.m., instead of their usual timing, in order  to
avoid the appellant-accused, who used to visit the  court  in  the  evening.
When both the girls were about to return, at about 6:30  p.m.,  Mr.  Paltoo-
the ball picker, came out of  the  court  and  told  Ms.  Ruchika  that  the
appellant-accused had called  her  in  his  office.   However,  Ms.  Ruchika
refused to meet him and pointed out to Ms. Aradhana that since they had  not
informed their parents about the mis-behaviour of the  appellant-accused  on
12.08.1990, the appellant-accused  was  feeling  emboldened  and  had  again
called her to his office with a view to molest  her.   Thereafter,  both  of
them decided to disclose the incident  that  took  place  on  12.08.1990  to
their respective parents.  Accordingly, Ruchika  narrated  the  incident  of
her molestation at the hands of the appellant-accused to  her  father,  Shri
S. C. Girhotra.  Also, the parents of Ms. Aradhana were made  aware  of  the
entire incident.
(h)   On hearing this, Shri S.C. Girhotra, gathered  the  residents  of  the
locality, who were mostly parents of trainee boys and girls, and  they  went
to the HLTA office to meet the  appellant-accused  but  they  were  informed
that the appellant-accused had already left for Chandigarh.  On  15.08.1990,
a Memorandum/petition, duly signed by Ms. Ruchika, Ms. Aradhana,  Mr.  Anand
Prakash and Ms.  Madhu  Prakash-father  and  mother  of  Ms.  Aradhana,  was
presented to the then Secretary (Home), Haryana.  After the approval of  the
Home Minister, Shri R.R. Singh,  the  then  DGP  was  directed  to  hold  an
inquiry into the allegations leveled against the  appellant-accused  in  the
Memorandum/petition.
(i)   After conducting the  enquiry  into  the  incident,  Shri  R.R.  Singh
concluded that the allegation of molestation is based on true  facts  and  a
cognizable  case  is  made  out  against  the  appellant-accused  under  the
provisions of  the  Indian  Penal  Code,  1860  (in  short  ‘the  IPC’)  and
forwarded his enquiry report  dated  03.09.1990  to  the  Secretary  (Home),
Government of Haryana.
(j)   During investigation it was also revealed that after the  incident  of
molestation,  Ms.  Ruchika  confined  herself  in  her  house.   Later,   on
28.12.1993,  she  committed  suicide  by  consuming  poison  and   died   on
29.12.1993.
(k)   The enquiry report by Shri  R.R.  Singh  was  examined  by  the  Legal
Division  of  the  Government  of  Haryana  in  1990  and  1992  which  also
recommended for  registration  of  a  case  against  the  appellant-accused.
Madhu Prakash-the complainant/Respondent  No.  2  herein  requested  several
authorities in the Government of Haryana for registration of a case  but  no
action was taken on which she filed a Criminal Writ Petition being No.  1694
of 1997 before the Punjab and Haryana High  Court.   The  High  Court,  vide
order dated 21.08.1998, issued direction to the  Superintendent  of  Police,
Panchkula that after registration of the case, the  investigation  shall  be
handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the same  shall
be conducted by an officer not below the rank of DIG.  This  Court,  by  its
order dated 14.12.1999, upheld the order of the High Court dated  21.08.1998
which culminated into registration  of  a  First  Information  Report  (FIR)
being No. 516 of  1999  under  Sections  354  and  509  of  the  IPC  at  PS
Panchkula, Haryana against the appellant-accused.
(l)   The CBI filed  charge-sheet  dated  16.11.2000  before  the  Court  of
Special Judicial Magistrate, CBI, Ambala under Section 354 of  the  IPC.   A
petition under Section 473 of the  Code  of  Criminal  Procedure,  1973  (in
short ‘the Code’) was filed by the CBI for condoning  the  delay  in  filing
the charge sheet and for taking cognizance which was allowed  by  the  Court
of Special Judicial  Magistrate,  by  his  order  dated  05.12.2000.   Being
aggrieved by the order dated  05.12.2000,  the  appellant-accused  preferred
Writ Petition (Criminal) being No. 46381  of  2000  before  the  High  Court
challenging the condonation of delay.  The High Court, by  its  order  dated
18.04.2001 dismissed the petition with a direction to  the  trial  court  to
dispose of the case preferably within six months.
(m)   Further, a petition was filed for addition of Section 306 IPC  in  the
charge sheet which was  allowed  by  an  order  of  the  Trial  Court  dated
23.10.2001.  Being aggrieved by the order dated 23.10.2001,  the  appellant-
accused preferred Criminal Misc. Petition being No. 44607-M/2011 before  the
High Court.  The High Court, by its order dated 12.02.2002,  set  aside  the
order dated 23.10.2001 passed by the Trial Court.   In  appeal,  this  Court
also upheld the order dated 12.02.2002 passed by the High Court.
(n)   The Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Chandigarh,  by  its  judgment
and order dated 21.12.2009 in  Challan  No.  3/17-11-2000,  12  T/10.04.2006
RBT191/17-11-2009,  held  the  appellant-accused  guilty  of  offence  under
Section 354 of the IPC and sentenced him  to  suffer  rigorous  imprisonment
(RI) for six months along with a fine of Rs. 1,000/-.   Being  aggrieved  by
the judgment and order dated  21.12.2009,  the  appellant-accused  preferred
Criminal Appeal being No. 5 of 12.01.2010 before  the  Court  of  Additional
Sessions Judge, Chandigarh.  The CBI  and  Madhu  Prakash-Respondent  No.  2
herein also preferred Criminal Appeal being Nos. 26 of 12.01.2010 and 22  of
05.02.2010 respectively, before  the  Court  for  enhancement  of  sentence.
Learned  Additional  Sessions  Judge,  Chandigarh,  by   his   order   dated
25.05.2010  dismissed  the  appeal  filed  by  the  appellant-accused  while
allowing the appeals filed by the CBI and Madhu Prakash  for  inadequacy  of
the sentence and  for  enhancement  of  sentence  of  imprisonment  and  the
appellant-accused was awarded with rigorous imprisonment for 1 ½ years  (one
and a half) for committing offence  under  Section  354  of  the  IPC.   The
sentence of fine remained unchanged.
(o)   Being aggrieved of  the  judgment  and  order  dated  25.05.2010,  the
appellant-accused preferred Criminal Revision being No. 1558 of 2010  before
the High Court.  The High Court, by its order  dated  01.09.2010,  dismissed
the revision filed by the appellant-accused.
(p)    Aggrieved  by  the  above  said  order,  the  appellant-accused   has
preferred this petition by way of special leave  before  this  Court.   This
Court, by its order dated 11.11.2010, has allowed the petition filed by  the
appellant-accused for bail.
3)    Heard Shri K.V. Viswanathan, learned senior counsel for the appellant-
accused and Ms. Vibha Datta Makhija, learned senior counsel for the CBI  and
Shri Vikas Mehta, learned counsel for Respondent No. 2.
Rival contentions:
4)    Learned senior counsel for the appellant-accused contended that  given
the situation of the HLTA make shift office in  a  garage  at  the  relevant
point of time along with the  presence  of  a  number  of  people  including
labourers, it would be impossible to even try for such an act, knowing  well
that the act  can  be  seen  by  others.   Learned  senior  counsel  further
contended that the prosecution story is absolutely false and  frivolous  and
the  appellant-accused  has  been  framed  in  the  present  case   by   the
complainant party and the high level officers of the State with an  ulterior
motive.  The appellant-accused  neither  visited  the  house  of  Shri  S.C.
Girhotra nor asked for a meeting with Ruchika on 12.08.1990 in HLTA  office.
 It was further argued that the Memorandum/petition has been  drafted  after
prolonged consideration  and  deliberation  by  several  interested  persons
including some senior police officers of the State of Haryana.  The name  of
the players who were allegedly accompanying  Ms.  Ruchika  at  the  relevant
time has not been mentioned in the Memorandum  intentionally  and  later  on
Ms. Aradhana has been planted as ‘Sathi Khiladi’.   It  was  contended  that
the words ‘Sathi Khiladi’ have been mentioned  in  the  Memorandum  for  the
purpose of introducing an eye witness of  choice.   Learned  senior  counsel
further  contended  that  the  signature  of  Ms.  Ruchika  on  the  alleged
Memorandum is false and forged and on this ground, the  document  cannot  be
relied upon.  This document does not disclose the details  of  the  incident
and merely suggests that the appellant-accused misbehaved with  Ms.  Ruchika
which does not attract Section 354 of the IPC.
5)    Learned senior counsel further contended that no complaint  was  filed
by Ms. Ruchika or her father  Shri  S.C.  Girhotra  or  Shri  Ashu  -  elder
brother of Ms. Ruchika or Mrs. Madhu Prakash (PW-2)  or  Sh.  Anand  Prakash
(PW-1) or by Ms.  Aradhana  (PW-13)  in  the  police  station.   Even  after
14.08.1990, when Ms. Ruchika  and  Ms.  Aradhana  allegedly  informed  their
parents, none of them approached the police to get the FIR registered.   The
police post, Sector 6, Panchkula is at a distance of  300  yards  only  from
the tennis court.  It is situated very  near  to  the  house  of  Shri  S.C.
Girhotra also.   In  this  way  undue  and  unexplained  delay  resulted  in
manipulations and proper version could not be put forth before the court.
6)    Learned senior counsel for  the  appellant-accused  further  contended
that the inquiry conducted by Shri R.R. Singh was  without  jurisdiction  as
the appellant-accused, at the relevant point  of  time,  was  on  deputation
with  the  BBMB  and  was  not  under  the  administrative  control  of  the
Government of Haryana.  He further contended  that  the  IAS  lobby  in  the
Government of Haryana was entirely against the appellant-accused and it  had
colluded with Shri Anand Prakash (PW-1) and others  against  the  appellant-
accused.  He further pointed out the reason that there was  rivalry  between
the two tennis associations, one headed by  the  appellant-accused  and  one
formed later on by the IAS group with Shri J.K. Duggal, Secretary (Home)  as
its President with  the  patronage  of  Shri  B.S.  Ojha.   It  was  further
contended from the side of the appellant-accused  that  before  forming  the
Haryana Tennis Association (HTA), the IAS lobby pressurized  the  appellant-
accused to step down from the Presidentship of HLTA in favour of  Shri  B.S.
Ojha to which the appellant-accused refused which annoyed  Shri  B.S.  Ojha,
who had strong reasons for ordering the  enquiry  by  Shri  R.R.  Singh  and
police officers working under him had organized the  drafting  of  the  said
Memorandum against the appellant-accused.  The  enquiry  conducted  by  Shri
R.R. Singh cannot be relied upon because no enquiry could be marked  to  him
and also he has not held the  enquiry  in  proper  manner.  It  was  further
submitted by learned senior counsel that the media  has  played  a  negative
role in the present case and published the  selective  news  items  only  in
collusion with the complainant party.   The  material  witnesses  like  ball
picker - Paltoo and Coach - K.T. Thomas, who were allegedly present  at  the
place of alleged incident,  have  not  been  examined  by  the  prosecution.
Further, the witnesses have made a lot of improvements and there  are  other
discrepancies also in the statements of witnesses and  therefore,  the  same
could not have been  relied  upon  by  the  courts  below.   Learned  senior
counsel finally contended that the case of  the  prosecution  is  false  and
frivolous, the net result of which is that the  prosecution  has  failed  to
prove its case and the appellant-accused is entitled to be acquitted.
7)    Per contra, learned senior counsel for  the  CBI  submitted  that  the
occurrence is well proved by the unimpeachable  testimony  of  Ms.  Aradhana
(PW-13).  The eye witness stood with her testimony till end  and  therefore,
the contention urged on behalf of the appellant-accused with regard  to  the
above evidence has no relevance or substance.  On a careful  examination  of
the statement of PW-13, it can be very easy  to  arrive  at  the  conclusion
that there was every possibility that Ms. Ruchika could have  been  embraced
by the appellant-accused in  the  manner  that  the  eye-witness  eventually
described in her deposition  before  the  trial  court.     Even  Shri  S.C.
Girhotra –  father  of  Ms.  Ruchika  has  categorically  deposed  that  the
appellant-accused met him and requested him not to send his daughter  abroad
and also insisted to meet  her  in  his  office  on  12.08.1990  which  gets
corroboration from the statement of PW-13 that both the girls went  to  meet
the appellant-accused at his office at HLTA.
8)    With regard to the claim of signature on the Memorandum as well as  on
the application given to  the  SHO,  learned  senior  counsel  for  the  CBI
submitted that as far as the signatures of Ms. Ruchika on the  document  are
concerned, Ms. Ruchika has signed the alleged Memorandum in the presence  of
others and the same is established by the witnesses like Ms. Aradhana,  Mrs.
Madhu Prakash and Sh.  Anand  Prakash  in  whose  presence  she  signed  the
documents, which is a  direct  evidence.  The  evidence  of  expert  witness
cannot be  considered  conclusive  proof  of  the  charge  and  it  requires
independent  and  reliable  evidence  for  its  corroboration.  She  further
submitted that  Ms.  Ruchika  was  the  best  person  to  depose  about  the
genuineness of her signatures, but as she is no more, therefore,  she  could
not appear in the witness  box  to  depose  about  the  genuineness  of  her
signature on the alleged Memorandum. In her absence, the persons,  in  whose
presence, she signed the document  are  the  best  witnesses  to  prove  the
genuineness of the signature of the victim. The strong  direct  evidence  on
record cannot be rebutted by weak type of evidence of  hand  writing  expert
upon which reliance is placed by the learned senior  counsel  on  behalf  of
the appellant-accused.
9)    With regard to the contention urged by the appellant-accused that  Ms.
Aradhana was the ‘Sathi Khiladi’ as mentioned  in  the  Memorandum,  on  the
basis of which FIR got registered, was manipulated, learned  senior  counsel
submitted that a perusal of the contents of the Memorandum reveals  that  it
merely gives  a  sequence  of  events  which  had  happened  from  the  very
beginning and no manipulation appears to be made out. Merely on  the  ground
that Shri C.P. Bansal, the then DIG and Shri Sham Lal Goyal,  the  then  DSP
were present on the spot, it cannot be said that they actively  participated
in its drafting and certain unnecessary and unwarranted facts were added  to
it. If experienced police officers would have participated in  its  drafting
then it should have been in the form of FIR and the evidence must have  been
specifically pointed out in it. But the language of the Memorandum  is  like
that the people have tried to show their resentment against the alleged  act
and demanded action against the accused. The reason for not  mentioning  the
name of Ms. Aradhana in the Memorandum is that she could have been  harassed
by the accused, who being a high ranking police officer.   Because  of  this
reason only, Ms. Ruchika or Ms. Aradhana or their parents did  not  approach
the local police  to  lodge  the  FIR.   They  were  fully  aware  that  the
appellant-accused, being a senior most police officer, holding  a  key  post
in the State, would definitely hamper the investigation  or  may  not  allow
the police officers to cooperate with the complainant party.
10)   Learned senior counsel for the CBI further pointed out that Shri  R.R.
Singh was an authority legally competent to investigate  the  facts  of  the
Memorandum and he was asked by the Government of  Haryana  to  enquire  into
the facts given in the Memorandum and to submit a report to it.  To  make  a
person an authority legally competent to investigate, it  is  not  necessary
that he should be having  authority  which  flows  from  a  Statute.  It  is
sufficient that such person was authorized legally by the  State  Government
to investigate the fact. As such, Sh. R.R. Singh was competent authority  to
investigate the facts in question and the statements given by the  witnesses
before him are admissible in evidence irrespective of time gap  between  the
time when the incidents occurred and the date on which the  statements  were
given.
11)   Learned senior counsel for the CBI finally submitted that the  alleged
rivalry between the HLTA and HTA  as  well  as  the  arguments  advanced  by
learned senior counsel for the appellant-accused regarding  the  credibility
of Shri Anand Prakash (PW-1) and Shri S.C. Girhotra (PW-15) have no  bearing
on the case at hand and the prosecution has made out a case  for  conviction
of the appellant-accused under Section 354 of the IPC.


Discussion:
12)   It is not disputed that HLTA was  floated  in  1988-89  at  Panchkula,
Haryana. The appellant-accused was the President of  HLTA.  Its  office  was
established in the garage of  an  under  construction  house  at  Sector  6,
Panchkula owned by the appellant-accused.  It is also an admitted fact  that
Ms. Aradhana (PW-13), Mr. Manish Arora (PW-3), Mr. Vipul Chanana (PW-4)  and
Ms. Ruchika (since deceased) were the members of the  Association  and  used
to play tennis in its court. It is the  case  of  the  prosecution  that  on
11.08.1990, the appellant-accused visited the house of  Shri  S.C.  Girhotra
(PW-15) and requested him not to send his daughter to  Canada  for  coaching
as he would arrange special coaching for her at HLTA itself.  This fact  has
been well proved by Shri S.C. Girhotra (PW-15)  in  his  statement.  He  has
deposed before the trial Court that  on  11.08.1990,  the  appellant-accused
visited his house at about 12.00 noon and had asked  him  not  to  send  his
daughter to Canada and that he would arrange special coaching for her.   The
appellant-accused further asked him to send his daughter on  12.08.1990,  at
about 12.00 noon, in his office to discuss  about  the  training.   At  that
particular point of time, Ms. Ruchika was not present at her house.  On  her
return, PW-15 informed the same to her  and  also  asked  her  to  meet  the
appellant-accused on 12.08.1990 in his office  at  12.00  noon.   This  fact
finds corroboration from the statement of Ms.  Aradhana  (PW-13).   She  has
deposed that on 12.08.1990, at about 11.00 a.m., Ms.  Ruchika  came  to  her
house and she very excitedly told her that  on  11.08.1990,  the  appellant-
accused had visited her house and requested  her  father  not  to  send  her
abroad and that he would arrange special coaching for her at HLTA itself  as
she was a promising player. She  further  informed  Ms.  Aradhana  that  the
appellant-accused had asked her to meet him on 12.08.1990,  at  12.00  noon,
at HLTA office. The very same fact finds place in the Memorandum also  which
was signed by  Ms.  Ruchika  along  with  others.   The  evidence  of  PW-15
corroborates with the evidence of PW-13 in order to  substantiate  the  fact
that the appellant-accused visited  the  house  of  Shri  S.C.  Girhotra  on
11.08.1990 and asked him to send Ms. Ruchika to his  office  on  12.08.1990,
at 12.00 noon.
13)   Ms. Ruchika (since deceased) and Ms. Aradhana went  to  play  at  lawn
tennis court on 12.08.1990 and while they were playing Sh.  Paltoo-the  ball
picker came there and  told  Ms.  Ruchika  that  the  appellant-accused  had
called her to his office at 12.00 noon. Accordingly,  Ms.  Ruchika  and  Ms.
Aradhana went to his office.  The appellant-accused asked  Ms.  Aradhana  to
fetch the coach-Shri T. Thomas.  While Ms. Aradhana had left the place,  the
appellant-accused molested/outraged the modesty of Ms.  Ruchika.   When  Ms.
Aradhana  returned  to  the  office,  she  witnessed  the  appellant-accused
molesting Ms. Ruchika. Ms. Aradhana, in  her  statement,  has  categorically
deposed that on that day when  both  of  them  i.e.,  Ms.  Ruchika  and  Ms.
Aradhana were playing  tennis,  Shri  Paltoo,  the  ball  picker,  came  and
informed Ms. Ruchika that the  appellant-accused  had  called  her  in  HLTA
office. They  saw  that  the  appellant-accused  was  standing  outside  his
office.  On seeing them, the appellant-accused asked them  to  come  to  his
office. Though Ms. Ruchika requested the appellant-accused to  talk  to  her
outside the office, but he insisted them to  come  to  his  office.  On  his
insistence, they followed him towards his office.  On  being  asked  by  the
appellant-accused, a chair was brought on which  Ms.  Aradhana  (PW-13)  sat
down  while  Ruchika  remained  standing  on  her  right  side.  Immediately
thereafter, the appellant-accused asked Ms. Aradhana to fetch the  coach-Mr.
T. Thomas. When she went outside to call the coach, she found  him  standing
at a distance on the other side of the house across the road. She asked  the
ball picker-Paltoo to go and fetch the coach. Mr. Thomas, on being  informed
about  the  same  by  Mr.  Paltoo,  waved  his  hand  towards  Ms.  Aradhana
expressing his inability to come at that moment.  Thereafter,  Ms.  Aradhana
returned and when she entered  the  office,  she  saw  that  the  appellant-
accused was holding one hand of Ms. Ruchika and his other  hand  was  around
her waist.  Ms. Ruchika was trying hard to get herself released  by  pushing
him away  with  her  other  hand.   On  seeing  Ms.  Aradhana  (PW-13),  the
appellant-accused became nervous and released Ms. Ruchika and fell  down  on
his chair.  When she informed the appellant-accused that coach  has  refused
to come to his office, the appellant-accused rudely ordered her to go  again
and call the coach personally.  In the meantime, Ms.  Ruchika  came  to  her
side and went out of the office.  When PW-13 was trying to follow  her,  the
appellant-accused told her “ask her to cool down, I  will  do  whatever  she
will say”.  Thereafter, PW-13 followed Ms.  Ruchika  and  when  she  reached
near her, Ruchika started weeping loudly.  When she asked Ms. Ruchika as  to
what had happened, she narrated that as  soon  as  she  left  to  fetch  the
coach, the appellant-accused caught hold of her hand which she got  released
with great difficulty, but he again caught hold of her  hand  and  with  his
other hand the appellant-accused caught hold of her waist  and  dragged  her
towards him and embraced her.  She further told her  that  in  the  meantime
when PW-13 reached there,  he  got  scared  and  immediately  released  her.
After discussion as to whether the incident be disclosed  to  their  parents
or not, both of them decided not to inform their parents about the  incident
as the appellant-accused, being a high ranking police  officer,  could  harm
their families.  The molestation  of  Ms.  Ruchika,  at  the  hands  of  the
appellant-accused is very well proved from the deposition of  PW-13.   There
was no reason for Ms. Aradhana (PW-13) to  depose  falsely.   In  fact,  she
witnessed the actual act of molestation of Ms. Ruchika at the hands  of  the
appellant-accused.  Further, the fact regarding molestation of  Ms.  Ruchika
by the appellant-accused has been stated on oath by Shri Anand Prakash  (PW-
1), Mrs. Madhu Prakash (PW-2), Mr. Manish Arora  (PW-3),  Mr.  Vipul  Chanan
(PW-4) and Shri S.C. Girhotra (PW-15).  There is no reason as to  why  PW-13
and other aforementioned prosecution witnesses would falsely  implicate  the
appellant-accused in the case.
14)   Ms. Ruchika  and  Ms.  Aradhana  visited  the  lawn  tennis  court  on
14.08.1990, at 4:30 p.m., instead of  their  usual  timing  deliberately  in
order to avoid confrontation with the appellant-accused,  who  usually  used
to visit the court in the evening daily.  At  about  6.30  p.m.,  when  they
were about to return after practice, Shri Paltoo –  the  ball  picker,  came
over the lawn tennis court and told Ms. Ruchika that  the  appellant-accused
had called her in his office immediately. However, Ms.  Ruchika  refused  to
go there and told Ms. Aradhana that since they had not  informed  about  the
incident  which  took  place  on  12.08.1990  to  their  parents  that   has
emboldened the appellant-accused.  Thereupon, they decided to  inform  about
the overt act of the appellant-accused to their parents.  They went  to  the
house of Ms. Ruchika where they met Shri  S.C.  Girhotra  -  father  of  Ms.
Ruchika.  Ms. Ruchika started narrating the incident of molestation  to  her
father, however, she could not narrate the entire incident and  broke  down,
whereupon her father told Ms. Aradhana to take Ms. Ruchika  to  her  mother.
They went to the house of Ms. Aradhana where Mrs. Madhu Prakash  (PW-2)  and
Shri Anand Prakash (PW-1) were present. Ms.  Ruchika  disclosed  the  entire
incident to PW-2, who further informed her husband about the said  incident.
 Thereafter, Ms. Ruchika, Ms.  Aradhana,  Shri  Anand  Prakash,  Mrs.  Madhu
Prakash and Shri S.C. Girhotra and other persons went to HLTA court to  meet
the appellant-accused wherefrom  they  came  to  know  that  the  appellant-
accused had already left for Chandigarh.
15)   On 15.08.1990, a number of persons, who were mostly players and  their
parents, gathered at the residence of Shri Anand Prakash. They decided  that
the  incident  should  be  brought  to  the  notice  of  higher  authorities
including the Chief Minister  of  Haryana.  Accordingly,  a  Memorandum  was
prepared. A number of copies of this  Memorandum  were  prepared  for  being
handed over to different authorities.  This Memorandum  was  signed  by  Sh.
Anand Prakash, Ms. Ruchika, Mrs. Madhu Prakash,  Meenu,  Sangeet,  Aradhana,
Anirudh, Beenu,  Naresh  Mittal,  C.S.  Gupta  and  Shri  I.D.  Mittal.  The
witnesses who were examined in the  court  identified  their  signatures  as
well as signatures of Ms. Ruchika on the Memorandum.  The  appellant-accused
disputed the  genuineness  of  signatures  of  Ms.  Ruchika.   He  tried  to
substantiate his contention  by  examining  the  hand  writing  expert.  The
contention of the appellant-accused is not  tenable  as  the  witnesses  who
have been examined by the prosecution and in whose presence  the  Memorandum
was signed, have identified  the  signatures  of  Ms.  Ruchika.  Shri  Anand
Prakash has proved the preparation of Memorandum.  In this regard,  the  law
is very clear that a fact should be proved by the best  available  evidence.
The  witnesses  had  identified  the  signatures  of  Ms.  Ruchika  on   the
Memorandum, therefore, the  evidence  of  the  hand  writing  expert  cannot
considered to  be  safe  and  it  requires  corroboration  from  independent
witnesses.  As already stated, the  signatures  of  Ms.  Ruchika  have  been
proved by the witnesses who have  signed  the  Memorandum  and  are  direct,
primary and best available evidence in the case  and,  therefore,  the  same
can be relied upon.
16)   On 16.08.1990, the Memorandum was given to Shri J.K.  Duggal  (PW-12),
the then Secretary  (Home)  who  assured  them  that  the  matter  would  be
enquired into.  He asked the persons who had  presented  the  Memorandum  to
him to reach the lawn tennis court where  Shri  S.K.  Joshi,  the  then  SDM
would also be reaching.  After reaching there, they  found  a  Notice  dated
15.08.1990 declaring suspension of Ms. Ruchika with effect  from  13.08.1990
displayed on the Notice Board.  Shri S.K. Joshi, the then SDM  also  reached
there.  Shri Kuldeep Singh-the Manager and Shri  T.  Thomas-the  Coach  were
also present there.  On being asked, Shri Kuldeep Singh, in the presence  of
witnesses, informed that he has affixed the notice on the directions of  the
appellant-accused.  He further disclosed that Ms. Ruchika has  committed  no
act of indiscipline.  On being asked,  Shri  Kuldeep  Singh  gave  the  same
facts in writing on the Notice. This fact was confirmed by the Coach -  Shri
T. Thomas and he signed at a point where the following  words  were  written
“I support the contents of the endorsement of Sh. Kuldeep  Singh”.   He  was
also asked to give it in writing,  if  any  act  of  indiscipline  has  been
committed by Ms. Ruchika. On this, he made  an  endorsement  to  the  effect
that to the best of his knowledge Ms.  Ruchika  has  not  done  any  act  of
misbehavior or indiscipline in the  HLTA  tennis  court.   This  notice  was
produced by Shri Anand Prakash at the time  of  his  deposition  before  the
trial court.  It has also come in his evidence that said  notice  was  given
to him by the SDM immediately after making endorsement.   These  facts  have
been proved by PW-1, PW-2, PW-3, PW-4, PW-5  and  PW-13.   The  presence  of
Shri Kuldeep Singh and Shri T. Thomas on that day and time has already  been
proved by the then SHO, Panchkula who was on patrolling duty  on  that  date
and reached the spot on receiving  verbal  transmission  message  about  the
incident.

17)   Shri R.R. Singh was directed by the Chief Minister and  Home  Minister
of the  State  of  Haryana  to  conduct  an  enquiry  into  the  allegations
contained in the Memorandum. In compliance of  the  said  order,  Shri  R.R.
Singh recorded the statements of the witnesses including Mrs. Madhu  Prakash
(PW-2), Ms. Aradhana (PW-13), Shri  S.C.  Girhotra  (PW-15)  and  Shri  Anil
Kumar.  The statements of Ms. Ruchika and Shri  Anand  Prakash  (PW-1)  were
also recorded. After the enquiry, he  recommended  that  a  case  under  the
relevant provisions of the IPC be got registered.   Despite  the  fact  that
Shri R.R. Singh had recommended the  registration  of  a  case  against  the
appellant-accused, no action was taken by the State Government. It  is  most
surprising that no value  was  attached  to  the  said  Report  and  to  the
recommendations made by such a high ranking police  officer  i.e.,  Director
General of Police, Haryana.
18)   It has also been argued from the side of  the  appellant-accused  that
Shri B.S. Ojha and Shri J.K. Duggal were having great  grudge  against  him.
It was further contended that the relations  between  the  appellant-accused
and Shri R.R. Singh were  strained  since  1976.  But  this  suggestion  was
denied by the witness while appearing in the court.  Learned senior  counsel
for the CBI has strenuously submitted that a  proper  report  was  given  by
Shri R.R. Singh and it is a matter of common  experience  that  no  girl  or
father would make a false complaint of  such  heinous  nature  even  against
their enemy.
19)   Shri R.R. Singh had conducted the enquiry  under  the  orders  of  the
Government of Haryana, therefore, he was  competent  to  investigate/enquire
into the allegations made in the Memorandum. As  such,  all  the  statements
recorded by him are admissible under Section 157 of the Indian Evidence  Act
for the purpose of corroboration.  Shri J.K. Duggal and Shri B.S.  Ojha  are
independent witnesses and they have no grudge against the  appellant-accused
as alleged by the learned senior counsel.  For the sake of  arguments,  even
if it is assumed to be correct that there was some dispute over the  control
of HLTA between them, it was not such a big issue which would  have  induced
them to implicate the appellant-accused falsely.  There is  no  evidence  on
record to substantiate the allegations that these two officers were  in  any
way instrumental in preparation of Memorandum or implicating the  appellant-
accused in the case. There is also no evidence  on  record  to  suggest  any
nexus of these two officers with Shri Anand Prakash  (PW-1)  and  Shri  S.C.
Girhotra (PW-15).  There is no evidence to suggest any  enmity  between  the
appellant-accused and PW-1 to implicate him in a  fabricated  case.   It  is
further the case of the appellant-accused that statement  recorded  by  Shri
R.R.  Singh  cannot  be  used  by  the  prosecution  for  the   purpose   of
corroboration under Section 157 of the Evidence Act. The contention  of  the
accused is not tenable at all. This  section  envisages  two  categories  of
statements of witnesses, which can be used for corroboration. First  is  the
statement made by a witness to any person at or  about  the  time  when  the
incident took place. The  second  is  the  statement  made  by  him  to  any
authority legally competent to  investigate  the  matter.   Such  statements
gain admissibility, no matter that it was made long after the incident.  But
if the statement was made to non-authority, it  loses  its  probative  value
due to lapse of time. Shri R.R. Singh was an authority legally competent  to
investigate the incident.  He was asked by the State Government  to  enquire
into the facts given in the Memorandum and report thereon. To make a  person
an authority legally competent to investigate, it is not necessary  that  he
should be having authority which flows from  a  Statute.  It  is  sufficient
that  such  person  was  authorized  legally  by  the  State  Government  to
investigate the matter. Hence, we are of the view that Shri R.R.  Singh  was
authority competent to investigate the fact in question and  the  statements
given by the witnesses before him are admissible  in  evidence  irrespective
of time gap between the time when incidents occurred and the date  on  which
the statements were given.   Shri  R.R.  Singh  was  in  fact  competent  to
investigate the matter since the enquiry conducted by him was merely a  fact
finding enquiry.  The undisputed fact is that nothing  happened  even  after
the submission of the report by Shri R.R. Singh because no action was  taken
by the State Government on the same. Further, all  the  witnesses  including
Sh. J.K. Duggal and Shri B.S. Ojha  examined  by  the  prosecution  are  the
independent witnesses  and  the  enmity,  as  suggested  by  the  appellant-
accused, is not proved, as discussed above.
20)   Learned senior counsel for the appellant-accused  has  contended  that
in the present  fact  situation,  how  a  person  can  embrace  other  while
standing behind the table and then suddenly  fall  into  his  chair  on  the
entry of PW-13.  In this regard, we have carefully considered  the  evidence
given by the prosecution, especially the evidence of PW-13.  She, being  the
sole witness to prove the actus  reus,  her  evidence  should  receive  some
careful consideration and we do not  find  any  reason  for  her  to  depose
falsely against the appellant-accused.   There is, thus,  every  possibility
that Ms. Ruchika could have been embraced by the appellant in the manner  as
described by PW-13.
21)   The High Court, on proper  re-appreciation  of  the  entire  evidence,
came to the right conclusion that the prosecution was successful in  proving
the case beyond reasonable doubt and the offence  punishable  under  Section
354 of the IPC was  made  out.   There  is  devastating  increase  in  cases
relating to crime against women in the world and  our  country  is  also  no
exception to it. Although the  statutory  provisions  provide  strict  penal
action against such offenders, it is for the  courts  to  ultimately  decide
whether such incident has  occurred  or  not.  The  courts  should  be  more
cautious in appreciating the evidence and the accused  should  not  be  left
scot-free merely on flimsy grounds.   By  the  consistent  evidence  of  Ms.
Aradhana (PW-13), the prosecution has proved  beyond  reasonable  doubt  the
offence committed by the appellant under Section 354 of the IPC.   A  charge
under Section 354 of the IPC is one which is very easy to make and  is  very
difficult to rebut. It is not that on account of alleged enmity between  the
appellant and Shri Duggal and Shri  Ojha,  he  was  falsely  implicated.  It
would, however, be unusual in a conservative society that a woman  would  be
used as a pawn to wreak vengeance. When a plea is taken  by  the  appellant-
accused that he has been falsely implicated, courts  have  a  duty  to  make
deeper scrutiny of the evidence and decide the  acceptability  or  otherwise
of the accusations made against him. In the instant  case,  both  the  trial
court and the High Court have done that. There is  no  scope  for  taking  a
different view from the view already been taken by the  courts  below.   The
occurrence of the overt act is well proved by  the  unimpeachable  testimony
of the eye-witness – Ms. Aradhana (PW-13).
22)   In order to constitute the offence under Section 354 of the IPC,  mere
knowledge that  the  modesty  of  a  woman  is  likely  to  be  outraged  is
sufficient without any deliberate intention of  having  such  outrage  alone
for its object. There is no abstract conception of modesty  that  can  apply
to all cases. A careful approach has  to  be  adopted  by  the  court  while
dealing with a case alleging outrage of modesty. The  essential  ingredients
of the offence under Section 354 IPC are as under:
(i) that the person assaulted must be a woman;
(ii) that the accused must have used criminal force on
     her; and
(iii) that the criminal force must have been used on the
      woman intending thereby to outrage her modesty.
23)   This Court, in Vidyadharan vs. State of Kerala (2004) 1 SCC 215,  held
as under
“10. Intention is not the sole criterion of  the  offence  punishable  under
Section 354 IPC, and it can be committed by a  person  assaulting  or  using
criminal force to any woman, if he knows that by such  act  the  modesty  of
the woman is likely to be affected. Knowledge and intention are  essentially
things of the mind and cannot be demonstrated  like  physical  objects.  The
existence of intention or knowledge  has  to  be  culled  out  from  various
circumstances in which and upon whom the alleged offence is alleged to  have
been committed. A victim of molestation  and  indignation  is  in  the  same
position as an injured witness and her testimony  should  receive  the  same
weight …..”

24)   It is undoubtedly correct that if intention or  knowledge  is  one  of
the ingredients of  any  offence,  it  has  got  to  be  proved  like  other
ingredients for convicting a person. But,  it  is  also  equally  true  that
those ingredients being state of mind may not be proved by  direct  evidence
and may have to be inferred from the  attending  circumstances  of  a  given
case. The sequence of events which we have detailed earlier  indicates  that
the appellant-accused had the requisite culpable intention.
25)   This Court, in Tarkeshwar Sahu vs. State of Bihar, (2006) 8  SCC  560,
held as under:-

“39. So far as the offence under Section 354 IPC is concerned, intention  to
outrage the modesty of a woman or knowledge that  the  act  of  the  accused
would result in outraging her modesty is the gravamen of the offence.

40. The essence of a woman’s modesty is her sex. The culpable  intention  of
the accused is the crux of the matter. The reaction of  the  woman  is  very
relevant, but its absence is not always decisive. Modesty  is  an  attribute
associated with female human beings  as  a  class.  It  is  a  virtue  which
attaches to a female owing to her sex.”

26)   With regard to the delay of about 6 days in presenting  the  complaint
to the SHO, this  Court  is  of  the  view  that  the  same  has  been  duly
explained.  In a tradition-bound non-permissive society in India,  it  would
be extremely reluctant to  admit  that  any  incident  which  is  likely  to
reflect upon chastity of a  woman  had  occurred,  being  conscious  of  the
danger of being ostracized by the  society  or  being  looked  down  by  the
society. In the instant case, the victim-Ms.  Ruchika  not  informing  about
the incident to the parents under  the  circumstances  that  the  appellant-
accused,  who  being  a  very  senior  police  officer  of  the  State,  was
reasonable and it would not have been an easy  decision  for  her  to  speak
out.  In the normal course of human  conduct,  this  unmarried  minor  girl,
would not like to  give  publicity  to  the  traumatic  experience  she  has
undergone and felt terribly embarrassed  in  relation  to  the  incident  to
narrate it to her parents and others overpowered by a feeling of  shame  and
her natural inclination would be to avoid talking about it to  anyone,  lest
the family name and honour is brought into controversy. After informing  the
incident to her parents, the follow up action was immediately taken  by  the
residents and the fellow players and  a  Memorandum  containing  allegations
against the appellant-accused was prepared and  submitted  before  the  then
Secretary (Home).  Therefore, giving a due consideration to  the  appellant-
accused, once the victim and her family members  got  assurance  of  justice
from the superior authorities, they lodged a formal  complaint  against  the
appellant-accused.
27)   With regard to the  contention  of  learned  senior  counsel  for  the
appellant-accused that the signature of Ms. Ruchika on  the  Memorandum  was
forged though she signed the same in front of Shri Anand Prakash, Shri  S.C.
Girhotra, Ms. Aradhana and Mrs. Madhu Prakash and  they  have  admitted  the
same, we are of the opinion that expert evidence as to handwriting  is  only
opinion evidence and it can never be conclusive.  Acting on the evidence  of
any expert, it is usually to see if that evidence is corroborated either  by
clear,  direct  or  circumstantial  evidence.   The  sole  evidence   of   a
handwriting expert is not  normally  sufficient  for  recording  a  definite
finding about the writing being of a certain person  or  not.   A  court  is
competent to compare the disputed writing of a person with others which  are
admitted or proved to be his writings.  It may not be safe for  a  court  to
record a finding about a person’s writing in a certain  document  merely  on
the basis of expert comparison, but a court can itself compare the  writings
in order to appreciate properly the other evidence  produced  before  it  in
that regard.  The opinion of a handwriting expert is also relevant  in  view
of Section 45 of the Evidence Act, but that too is not conclusive.   It  has
also been held by this Court in a catena of cases that the sole evidence  of
a handwriting expert is not normally sufficient  for  recording  a  definite
finding about the writing being of a certain  person  or  not.   It  follows
that it is not essential that the handwriting expert must be examined  in  a
case to prove or disprove the disputed writing.  It is opinion evidence  and
it can rarely, if ever, take the  place  of  substantive  evidence.   Before
acting on such evidence, it is usual to see if it is corroborated either  by
clear, direct evidence or by circumstantial evidence.
28)   In Mobarik Ali Ahmed vs. The State of Bombay AIR  1957  SC  857,  this
Court has held as under:-

“11…..Learned counsel objected to this approach on a question of  proof.  We
are, however, unable to see any objection. The proof of the  genuineness  of
a document is proof of the authorship of the document  and  is  proof  of  a
fact like that of any other fact.  The  evidence  relating  thereto  may  be
direct or circumstantial. It may consist of direct evidence of a person  who
saw the document being written or the signature being  affixed.  It  may  be
proof of the handwriting of the contents, or of the  signature,  by  one  of
the modes provided in Sections 45 and 47 of the Indian Evidence Act. It  may
also be proved  by  internal  evidence  afforded  by  the  contents  of  the
document. This last mode of proof by the contents  may  be  of  considerable
value where the disputed document purports to  be  a  link  in  a  chain  of
correspondence, some links in which are proved to the  satisfaction  of  the
court. In such a situation the person who is the recipient of the  document,
be it either a letter or a telegram, would be in a reasonably good  position
both with reference to his prior knowledge of the writing or  the  signature
of the alleged sender limited though it may be, as  also  his  knowledge  of
the subject  matter  of  the  chain  of  correspondence,  to  speak  to  its
authorship. In an appropriate case the court may also be in  a  position  to
judge whether the document constitutes  a  genuine  link  in  the  chain  of
correspondence  and  thus  to  determine  its  authorship.  We  are  unable,
therefore, to say that the approach adopted by the courts below in  arriving
at the conclusion that the letters are genuine is open to any serious  legal
objection. The question, if any, can only be  as  to  the  adequacy  of  the
material on which the conclusion as to the genuineness  of  the  letters  is
arrived at. That however is a matter which we cannot permit to be  canvassed
before us.

29)   In Smt. Bhagwan Kaur  vs.  Shri  Maharaj  Krishan  Sharma  And  Others
(1973) 4 SCC 46, this Court held as under:-

“26…..It is no doubt true that the prosecution led evidence  of  handwriting
expert to show the similarity of handwriting  between  (PW  1/A)  and  other
admitted writings of the deceased, but  in  this  respect,  we  are  of  the
opinion that in view of the main essential features of the  case,  not  much
value can be attached to the expert evidence. The evidence of a  handwriting
expert, unlike that of  a  fingerprint  expert,  is  generally  of  a  frail
character and its fallibilities have been quite  often  noticed  The  courts
should, therefore, be wary to give  too  much  weight  to  the  evidence  of
handwriting expert. In Sri Sri Sri Kishore Chandra Singh Deo v. Babu  Ganesh
Prasad  Bhagat  this  Court  observed  that  conclusions  based  upon   mere
comparison of handwriting must at  best  be  indecisive  and  yield  to  the
positive evidence in the case.”

30)   It is thus clear  that  uncorroborated  evidence  of  a  hand  writing
expert is an extremely weak type of evidence and  the  same  should  not  be
relied upon either  for  the  conviction  or  for  acquittal.   The  courts,
should, therefore, be wary to give  too  much  weight  to  the  evidence  of
handwriting expert.  It can rarely, if ever, take the place  of  substantive
evidence.  Before acting on such evidence, it is  usual  to  see  if  it  is
corroborated  either  by  clear,  direct  evidence  or   by   circumstantial
evidence.
31) It is the claim of learned  senior  counsel  for  the  appellant-accused
that the present case is fabricated and a  result  of  the  rivalry  between
HLTA and HTA.  Further, Shri Anand Prakash has derived professional  benefit
from this exercise besides  venting  his  longstanding  grudge  against  the
appellant-accused.     It does not stand to logic that having regard to  the
Indian social set up,  any  father  would  let  his  daughter’s  honour  and
reputation be damaged merely because  one  of  his  associate  has  his  own
agenda  against  the  appellant-accused.   However,  each  case  has  to  be
determined on the touchstone of the factual matrix thereof.  In the  instant
case, there is nothing on record on the basis of which it can be  said  that
the tender age of the victim was exploited for the  benefit  of  Shri  Anand
Prakash (PW-1)
32)   With regard to the contention of  learned  senior  counsel  that  non-
examination of two important  site  witnesses  viz.,  Shri  Paltoo-the  ball
picker and Shri T.Thomas-the  Coach  draws  adverse  inference  against  the
prosecution, the High Court has rightly held that adverse inference  against
the prosecution can be drawn only if it withholds certain evidence  and  not
merely on account of its failure to obtain certain evidence.   We  are  also
of the opinion that they were not in  any  way  connected  with  the  actual
commission of offence and even in  their  absence,  the  commission  of  the
offence of molestation by the appellant-accused stands well  proved  by  the
unimpeachable testimony of the eye witness (PW-13) to the incident.
33)   No particular number of witnesses is required for  proving  a  certain
fact.  It is the  quality  and  not  the  quantity  of  the  witnesses  that
matters.  Evidence is weighed and not counted.  Evidence of  even  a  single
eye witness, truthful, consistent and  inspiring  confidence  is  sufficient
for maintaining conviction.  It is not necessary that all those persons  who
were present at the spot must be examined by the  prosecution  in  order  to
prove the guilt of the accused.  Having examined all the witnesses, even  if
other persons present nearby  not  examined,  the  evidence  of  eye-witness
cannot be discarded.
34)   In view of the foregoing discussion, we are of the  opinion  that  Ms.
Aradhana (PW-13) withstood her testimony from beginning  till  the  end  and
her deposition was found reliable and corroborative with  other  prosecution
witnesses and both the courts below were right in upholding  the  conviction
of the appellant-accused under Section 354 of the IPC.
35)   With regard to  sentence  of  the  appellant-accused,  learned  senior
counsel on his behalf has pointed out certain mitigating factors  which  are
- old age of  the  appellant-accused,  health  ailments,  responsibility  of
looking  after  the  unmarried  daughter  suffering  from  congenital  heart
disease, past meritorious service and prolonged trial.  Keeping in view  the
aforementioned factors especially the old age and physical condition of  the
appellant-accused, we do not think it expedient to put  him  back  in  jail.
While we uphold the findings as to the guilt of  the  appellant-accused,  we
are of the opinion that the cause of justice would be best  sub-served  when
the sentence of  the  appellant-accused  would  be  altered  to  the  period
already undergone.  We, therefore, reduce the sentence of the  appellant  to
the period already undergone by him as a special case considering  his  very
advanced age.
36)   In view of the foregoing discussion, we confirm the conviction of  the
appellant-accused under Section 354 of the IPC while modifying the  sentence
to the period already undergone.  The appeal is disposed of with  the  above
terms.




 ...…………….…………………………J.
          (V. GOPALA GOWDA)



  .….....…………………………………J.
  (R.K. AGRAWAL)
NEW DELHI;
SEPTEMBER 23, 2016.

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