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Hemudan Nanbha Gadhvi vs The State Of Gujarat on 28 September, 2018

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 CRIMINAL APPEAL  NO.913 OF 2016

HEMUDAN NANBHA GADHVI ….APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
STATE OF GUJARAT …RESPONDENT(S)

JUDGMENT

NAVIN SINHA, J.

The appellant assails his conviction by the High Court under

Section   376(2)(f)   IPC,   sentencing   him   to   ten   years   rigorous

imprisonment,   with   fine   of   Rs.5,000/­   along   with   a   default

stipulation, after reversing his acquittal ordered by the trial court.

2. The prosecutrix PW­2, aged 9 years, was sexually assaulted

on   20.02.2004   by   an   unknown,   tall   and   thin   person   wearing
Signature Not Verified

white clothes. PW­3 Jasiben, accompanying the prosecutrix was
Digitally signed by
NEETU KHAJURIA
Date: 2018.09.28
14:57:00 IST
Reason:

also a minor.   She informed PW­1 Ambaben, the mother of the

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prosecutrix. F.I.R. was lodged by PW­1 the same day. The medical

examination of the prosecutrix was also done the same day, by

PW­9 Dr. Meghna Narendrabhai Mehta.  Sexual assault on PW­2

stood   established   by   rupture   of   the   hymen,   with   fresh   blood

oozing, and injury of  1.5  cm to 2 cm extending upto the lower

part   of   the   body.     The   appellant   and   one   Dhirubhai   Mulubhai

Desai were taken into custody on suspicion.   Test Identification

Parade   (T.I.P.)   was   conducted   by   PW­11,   the   Executive

Magistrate,   Dilipkumar   Kantilal   Rathod   two   days   after   the

occurrence on 22.02.2004.  The T.I.P. report Exhibit P­38,  bears

the thumb impression of       PW­2 who was accompanied by her

mother.  The appellant was identified by PW­2.  Six months later,

on 31.08.2004 while deposing during trial PW­2 and PW­3 denied

the sexual assault and also declined dock identification.  The trail

court consequentially acquitted the appellant.  

3.  The   High   Court,   on   appeal   by   the   State,   reversed   the

acquittal,   and   convicted   the   appellant   holding   that   the   F.I.R.

lodged   by   PW­1   had   been   duly   proved   by   PW­12   Police   Sub­

Inspector   Bachubhai   P.   Kalsariya.     The   sexual   assault   on   the

prosecutrix stood established by the medical report, corroborated

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by the presence of semen on the clothes of the prosecutrix, and

the appellant, proved by the FSL serological report as belonging to

Group B, which is the same as that of the appellant.   The T.I.P.

identification   of   the   appellant   stood   proved   by   PW­11.     The

appellant   was   held   to   have   won   over   the   prosecutrix   by   sheer

passage   of   time   and   the   consequent   delay   in   trial,   but   that   it

could not come to the aid of the appellant in view of the nature of

evidence available against him. 

4. Learned   counsel   for   the   appellant   assailing   the   conviction

contended   that   the   T.I.P.   is   only   corroborative   evidence,   and

cannot   be   put   at   par   with   substantive   evidence   for   conviction.

There is not an iota of evidence with regard to the identity of the

appellant   being   the   perpetrator,   and   dock   identification   of   the

appellant   had   been   declined.     Reliance   was   placed   on  Sheikh

Sintha Madhar vs. State Rep. by Inspector of Police, (2016)

11 SCC 265 and  Prakash vs. State of Karnataka, (2014) 12

SCC, 133.  It was lastly contended that the serological report was

not   formally   exhibited   and   neither   had  the  author  of  the  same

been   examined.     No   question   was   put   to   the   appellant   under

Section 313 Cr.P.C. with regard to the serological report, with an

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opportunity of defence, relying on Tara Singh vs. The State, AIR

1951 SC 441.  The conviction was therefore unsustainable.  

5. Learned counsel for the State opposing the appeal submitted

that the sexual assault on the prosecutrix stood established by

the medical report. The appellant had been identified in the T.I.P.

which   was   conducted   without   delay.   The   presence   of   semen

belonging to Group B as of the appellant, on the clothes of the

victim as also the appellant, were together sufficient to sustain

the conviction.  If PW­1 and 2 due to poverty, with sheer passage

of   time   by   six   months   before   deposing   in   court   had   been   won

over,   it   will   not   detract   from   the   offence   committed   by   the

appellant to warrant acquittal. 

6. We   have   considered   the   submissions   on   behalf   of   the

parties. The records have also been perused including necessary

translations   into   English   from  vernacular   language.    PW­1  and

PW­2 have acknowledged having gone to the hospital on the day

of occurrence.  PW­9, the doctor has confirmed the sexual assault

made   on   PW­2.       The   F.I.R.   lodged   by   PW­1   on   the   same   day

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stands proved by PW­12 the police Sub­Inspector who stated that

it was recorded by him exactly as dictated by the witness.   He

also   proved   having   forwarded   the   prosecutrix   for   medical

examination, the seizure of exhibits and sending the same to the

FSL.   The prosecutrix was also confronted under Section 145 of

the Evidence Act with her statement under Section 161, Cr.P.C

confirming   the   sexual   assault   on   her   after   she   turned   hostile,

contending that she had suffered injury in a fall.   The nature of

injuries on her person are well nigh impossible due to a fall.  Any

opinion of the doctor that such injury could be caused by a fall,

does not establish the injury as due to fall, as a fact but remains

a mere expression of an opinion.

 7.  The   appellant   was   apprehended   on   suspicion   along   with

another. The T.I.P. was held without delay on 22.02.2004. Exhibit

P­38, the T.I.P. report bears the thumb impression of PW­2 who

was accompanied by her mother.  The T.I.P. report has been duly

proved by PW­11.   The appellant was identified by PW­2.   There

appears no substantive challenge to the T.I.P.   Identification in

the   dock,   generally   speaking,   is   to   be   given   primacy   over

identification   in   T.I.P,   as   the   latter   is   considered   to   be

corroborative   evidence.     But   it   cannot   be   generalized   as   a

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universal rule, that identification in T.I.P. cannot be looked into,

in case of failure in dock identification.  Much will depend on the

facts   of   a   case.     If   other   corroborative   evidence   is   available,

identification in T.I.P. will assume relevance and will have to be

considered cumulatively.   In  Prakash vs. State of Karnataka,

(2014) 12 SCC 133 it was observed as follows :

“16….   Even   so,   the   failure   of   a   victim   or   a
witness to identify a suspect is not always fatal
to the case of the prosecution. In Visveswaran v.
State it was held: 

11.   …   The   identification   of   the   accused
either   in   a   test   identification   parade   or   in
court is not a sine qua non in every case if
from   the   circumstances   the   guilt   is
otherwise established. Many a time, crimes
are committed under the cover of darkness
when none is able to identify the accused.
The   commission   of   a   crime   can   be  proved
also by circumstantial evidence.”

8. The family of the prosecutrix was poor.  She was one of the

five   siblings.     The   assault   upon   her   took   place   while   she   had

taken the buffalos for grazing. Her deposition was recorded nearly

six   months   after   the   occurrence.     We   find   no   infirmity   in   the

reasoning   of   the   High   Court   that   it   was   sufficient   time   and

opportunity for the accused to win over the prosecutrix and PW­1
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by   a  settlement  through   coercion, intimidation,  persuasion  and

undue   influence.     The   mere   fact   that   PW­2   may   have   turned

hostile,   is   not   relevant   and   does   not   efface   the   evidence   with

regard to the sexual assault upon her and the identification of the

appellant   as   the   perpetrator.     The   observations   with   regard   to

hostile witnesses and the duty of the court in State vs. Sanjeev

Nanda,   2012   (8)   SCC   450   are   also   considered   relevant   in   the

present context:

“101…..if   a   witness   becomes   hostile   to   subvert
the judicial process, the court shall not stand as
a mute spectator and every effort should be made
to bring home the truth.  Criminal justice system
cannot be overturned by those gullible witnesses
who   act   under   pressure,   inducement   or
intimidation.   Further, Section 193 IPC imposes
punishment   for   giving   false   evidence   but   is
seldom invoked.”

9. A   criminal   trial   is   but   a   quest   for   truth.     The   nature   of

inquiry   and   evidence   required will  depend  on  the  facts of each

case.  The presumption of innocence will have to be balanced with

the   rights   of   the   victim,   and   above   all   the   societal   interest   for

preservation   of   the   rule   of   law.     Neither   the   accused   nor   the

victim   can   be   permitted   to   subvert   a   criminal   trial   by   stating

falsehood and resort to contrivances, so as to make it the theatre

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of   the   absurd.     Dispensation   of   justice   in   a   criminal   trial   is   a

serious matter and  cannot be allowed to become a mockery by

simply allowing prime prosecution witnesses to turn hostile as a

ground for acquittal, as observed in Zahira Habibullah Sheikh

vs.   State   of   Gujarat,   (2006)   3   SCC   374   and  Mahila   Vinod

Kumari vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, (2008) 8 SCC 34.  If the

medical   evidence   had   not   confirmed   sexual   assault   on   the

prosecutrix,   the   T.I.P.   and   identification   therein   were   doubtful,

corroborative   evidence   was   not   available,   entirely   different

considerations may have arisen.

10. It would indeed be a travesty of justice in the peculiar facts

of the present case if the appellant were to be acquitted merely

because the prosecutrix turned hostile and failed to identify the

appellant in the dock, in view of the other overwhelming evidence

available.   In  Iqbal vs. State of U.P., 2015 (6) SCC 623, it was

observed as follows: 

“15. Evidence of identification of the miscreants
in   the   test   identification   parade   is   not   a
substantive   evidence.   Conviction   cannot   be
based solely on the identity of the dacoits by the
witnesses   in   the   test   identification   parade.   The

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prosecution has to adduce substantive evidence
by   establishing   incriminating   evidence
connecting   the   accused   with   the   crime,   like
recovery of articles which are the subject matter
of dacoity and the alleged weapons used in the
commission of the offence.”

11. The corroboration of the identification in T.I.P is to be found

in the medical report of the prosecutrix considered in conjunction

with the semen found on the clothes of the prosecutrix and the

appellant belonging to the Group B of the appellant. The vaginal

smear   and   vaginal   swab   have   also   confirmed   the   presence   of

semen.    A close  analysis  of the facts and circumstances of the

case,   and   the   nature   of   the   evidence   available   unequivocally

establishes the appellant as the perpetrator of sexual assault on

the   prosecutrix.     The   serologist   report   was   an   expert   opinion

under   Section   45   of   the   Evidence   Act,1872   and   was   therefore

admissible in evidence without being marked an exhibit formally

or having to be proved by oral evidence. 

12. The contention on behalf of the appellant that the serological

report was not put to him by the court under Section 313 Cr. P.C.

and therefore, he has been prejudiced in his defence, has been

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raised for the first time before this court.   The serological report

being available, it was a failure on the part of the trial court to

bring it to the attention of the appellant.  The prosecution cannot

be said to be guilty of not adducing or suppressing any evidence.

In view of the nature of the evidence available in the present case,

as discussed hereinbefore, we are of the opinion that no prejudice

can be said to have been caused to the appellant for that reason,

as held in Nar Singh vs. State of Haryana, (2015) 1 SCC 496:  

“32….When   there   is   omission   to   put   material
evidence   to   the   accused   in   the   course   of
examination   under   Section   313   CrPC,   the
prosecution   is   not   guilty   of   not   adducing   or
suppressing such evidence; it is only the failure on
the part of the learned trial court. The victim of the
offence or the accused should not suffer for laches
or   omission   of   the   court.   Criminal   justice   is   not
one­sided. It has many facets and we have to draw
a balance between conflicting rights and duties.

33. Coming to the facts of this case, the FSL report
(Ext. P­12) was relied upon both by the trial court
as well as by the High Court. The objection as to
the defective Section 313 CrPC statement has not
been raised in the trial court or in the High Court
and the omission to put the question under Section
313 CrPC, and prejudice caused to the accused is
raised   before   this  Court   for   the  first  time.  It  was
brought   to   our   notice   that   the   appellant   is   in
custody for about eight years. While the right of the
accused to speedy trial is a valuable one, the Court
has   to  subserve the interest of justice keeping  in
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view the right of the victim’s family and society at
large.”

13. The present was an appropriate case to direct the prosecution

of the prosecutrix under Section 344 Cr.P.C alike Mahila Vinod

Kumari (supra) for tendering false evidence. But considering that

the prosecutrix was barely 9 years old on the date of occurrence,

that the occurrence had taken place 14 long years ago, she may

have  since been married and settled to a new life, all of which

may   possibly   be   jeopardised,   we   refrain   from   directing   her

prosecution, which we were otherwise inclined to order.

14. The appeal is dismissed. 

………………………….J.

[RANJAN GOGOI]

………………………….J.

[NAVIN SINHA]

………………………….J.

[K.M. JOSEPH]
NEW DELHI
SEPTEMBER 28, 2018.

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