While giving the benefit of doubt to the accused persons, the Allahabad High Court has in a most remarkable, robust, rational and recent judgment titled Shamim and Others vs State of UP in Criminal Appeal No. – 5690 of 2004 and cited in Neutral Citation No. – 2023:AHC:216972-DB that was reserved on October 31, 2023 and then finally pronounced on November 9, 2023 has acquitted three men in 1991 rape case holding that it is a clear case of false implication due to political rivalry and property dispute. The Court also held that there is no material evidence to substantiate the prosecution case. It must be noted that an appeal was filed under Section 374(2) of CrPC by the aforesaid men who were convicted under Section 376 of IPC for imprisonment of life and under Section 452 of IPC for imprisonment of three years.
At the very outset, this notable judgment authored by Hon’ble Ms Nand Prabha Shukla for a Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court comprising of Hon’ble Mr Justice Ashwani Kumar Mishra and herself sets the ball in motion by first and foremost putting forth in the initial paras that, “This is an appeal under Section 374(2) Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.) preferred by the appellants Shamim, Shafi and Khurshid challenging the Judgment and Order dated 30.10.2004 who have been convicted under Section 376 IPC for imprisonment of life and a fine of Rs. 10,000/- and under Section 452 IPC for imprisonment of three years and a fine of Rs. 3,000/- with default stipulations passed in Sessions Trial No. 438/1996 by Additional Sessions Judge (Fast Track Court No.-4), Badaun.”
To put things in perspective, the Division Bench envisages next in this noteworthy judgment that, “The prosecutrix gave a written Tehrir on 14.11.1991 at 12:30 p.m. at P.S. Mujariya, District Badaun stating that about two years back, her husband purchased two bighas of land from Shamim. But later he wanted to sell it for personal necessity. Shamim desired to get back the land sold by him for the same amount but her husband was reluctant as he had a habit of gambling. In revenge, Shamim expressed his anger and on being insulted, he threatened of dire consequences. About a week before the incident, her husband went to Dehradun for a job. Then, on the intervening night of 12/13.11.1991 at around 12:00 at night, accused Shamim along with Shafiq, Khurshid and Ashfaq of her village, entered into her house. On hearing the noise, she woke and enquired as to why they entered her house in odd hours. Her sister-in-law (Jethani) Firozi, who was nearby, also woke.
The accused dragged her towards the sugarcane field. On being dragged, she screamed and her sister-in-law (Jethani) too raised an alarm. The villagers came but the accused dragged her away towards the sugarcane field and committed rape for the whole night one by one. In the morning, when the tillers saw her, they rushed to rescue her, the accused fled away. The prosecutrix came out from the sugarcane field with their help and then lodged the FIR. On the basis of the aforesaid Tehrir, the First Information Report was lodged as Case Crime No. 179/1991 under Section 452, 376 IPC at P.S. Mujariya, District Badaun on 14.11.1991 at 12:30 p.m. against the four named accused Shamim, Shafi, Khurshid and Ashfaq.
On the same day, i.e. 14.11.1991 at 08:30 pm, the prosecutrix was produced for medical examination at Community Health Center, Ujhani, Badaun. According to the doctor, no external injuries were found. As per the internal examination, the vagina was two fingers loose and uterus was normal in size and the vaginal smear was taken for pathological examination of sperms. The prosecutrix was then referred for X-ray for the determination of age. Next day, i.e. on 15.11.1991, salwar of the prosecutrix having stains of semen was collected and the recovery memo dated 15.11.1991 was prepared (Exhibit Ka-2). According to the X-ray Report dated 24.01.1992, the epiphysis around the right elbow and the right wrist were found fused. As per the supplementary report dated 29.01.1992, radiological age of the prosecutrix was more than 18 years. It was opined that no opinion could be given about rape as there were no sperms seen in the vaginal smear and was habitual to sexual intercourse.”
Most significantly, the Division Bench minces just no words to hold unequivocally that, “Having heard the rival submissions and arguments advanced by learned counsel for the parties and after the perusal of records, we find that though there was slight delay in lodging the FIR but in rape matters it is a normal phenomenon. In cases of sexual assault, the victim is often bashful and carries trauma in her mind and requires some time to master the courage to undertake a legal battle against the culprit.
The appellant counsel has emphasized the property dispute as the main motive of implicating them for the accusation of rape finds substance. Enmity is a double edged weapon. The property dispute amongst the party is a strong reason for false implication. It has been found that already a suit was instituted by the wife of accused Shamim for the cancellation of the sale deed therefore, there was no occasion for the accused to unnecessary insult the prosecutrix by committing rape. The prosecutrix was a married young lady having two children and was medically examined within 48 hours of the incident on 14.11.1991 at 08:30 p.m., therefore, there was no reason to question its credibility.
According to the doctor, no external injuries were found on her body. As per the internal examination, the vaginal smear did not contain any sperm. The prosecutrix was habitual to sexual intercourse, therefore, no opinion about rape could be given. According to the X-ray report, the age of victim was more than 18 years. The testimony of the prosecutrix of commission of rape is not substantiated and does not corroborates with the medical evidence.
The statement of the prosecutrix is unworthy of credence. It is the admitted case of the prosecution that the accused were not carrying any weapon. PW-2 and PW-3 were examined as eye witness account of the incident but they could only narrate the incident which took place within the house but could not depose about the incident which took place in the sugarcane field. It has also been admitted by PW-1 that the accused neither insulted nor raped her inside the house.
The evidence adduced by PW-2 and PW-3 does not support the case of commission of rape on the prosecutrix. The recovered clothes of the prosecutrix (salwar) having stained semen, was not sent for chemical examination which also does not fortify the prosecution case. No independent witnesses were examined. Though the Investigating Officer found the fallen sugarcane plants but no such entry was made in the Case Diary. The site plan does not indicate the height of the boundary wall which was crossed by the accused while entering into the house. It is a clear case of false implication due to political rivalry and property dispute. There is no material evidence to substantiate the prosecution case.”
As a corollary, the Division Bench then hastens to add in the next para of this learned judgment holding that, “In view of aforesaid facts and circumstances, the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond the reasonable doubt. The statement of the prosecutrix is full of discrepancies and does not inspire confidence. Though, the conviction can be based on the sole testimony of the prosecutrix but the evidence of the prosecutrix when read as a whole does not corroborates with the medical evidence and is not worthy of credence.”
It is worth noting that the Division Bench also while citing a recent and relevant case law points out that, “Recently, in Manak Chand @ Mani vs. State of Haryana, 2023 SC Online SC 1399, in three Judge’s Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court while making observation in the matters of false cases of rape has held that:
“It cannot be lost sight of that rape causes the greatest distress and humiliation to the victim but at the same time a false allegation of rape can cause equal distress, humiliation and damage to the accused as well. The accused must also be protected against the possibility of false implication, particularly where a large number of accused are involved. It must, further, be borne in mind that the broad principle is that an injured witness was present at the time when the incident happened and that ordinarily such a witness would not tell a lie as to the actual assailants, but there is no presumption or any basis for assuming that the statement of such a witness is always correct or without any embellishment or exaggeration.””
Resultantly, the Division Bench then propounds that, “Thus, considering the entire facts and circumstances of the case, the evidence as well as the law laid down by the Hon’ble Apex Court in various judgments discussed in foregoing paragraphs, we hold that in cases of a false accusation of rape, the accused must be protected from the indictment. Hence, on the basis of the discussions as above, we are of the view that the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and the appeal is liable to be allowed.
Accordingly, the appeal is allowed. The impugned Judgment and Order of conviction and sentence dated 30.10.2004 passed by Additional Sessions Judge/ Fast Track Court-IV, Badaun in Sessions Trial No. 438/1996 registered as Case Crime No. 179/91, under Section 452 and 376 IPC, P.S. Mujariya, District Badaun is hereby set aside. The appellants Shamim, Shafiq and Khurshid are on bail. Their bail bonds are cancelled and the sureties are discharged.”
In sum, we thus see quite distinctly that the Allahabad High Court very rightly allowed the appeal of the appellants and acquitted the three men in 1991 rape case. The Court rightly held that it was a clear case of false implication due to political rivalry and property dispute. There can be just no denying it!