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Ramprasad S/O. Fagulal Amdare (In … vs State Of Maharashtra Thr. Sr. … on 27 June, 2018

Cri.Appeal 579/17 1 Judgment

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY,
NAGPUR BENCH, NAGPUR.
CRIMINAL APPEAL No. 579/2017
Ramprasad s/o Fagulal Amdare,
Aged about 48 years, Occ. Labourer,
R/o Bhim Nagar, Slum, Itarsi Puliya,
Gittikhadan, Nagpur. APPELLANT
…..VERSUS…..
State of Maharashtra,
Through Senior Police Inspector,
Police Station, Gittikhadan, Nagpur. RESPONDENT

Mr. A.Z. Gharde, counsel for the appellant.
Mr. Vishal Gangane, Additional Public Prosecutor for the respondent.

CORAM :MANISH PITALE, J.
DATE ON WHICH ARGUMENTS WERE HEARD : 7 TH JUNE, 2018.
DATE ON WHICH JUDGMENT IS PRONOUNCED : 27 TH JUNE, 2018.

JUDGMENT

This is an appeal arising out of conviction and sentence

imposed against the appellant under the provisions of the Prevention of

Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).

2. The appellant is the maternal uncle of the mother of the

prosecutrix and the accused and the prosecutrix are related to each other.

By the impugned judgment and order dated 28.07.2017, the Court of

Special Judge, POCSO Act and Additional Sessions Judge-1, Nagpur (Trial

Court) has held in Special Child Protection Case No.151 of 2014 that the

appellant did commit offence under Section 6 read with Section 5(n) of

the POCSO Act and thereby sentenced him to suffer rigorous

imprisonment for ten years and to pay fine of Rs.5000/-.

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3. As per the prosecution case, the incident occurred on

23.07.2014 at about 10.00 a.m. when the prosecutrix went to the house

of the appellant (accused). The said house was adjacent to the house of

the prosecutrix and the prosecutrix had allegedly gone there for bringing

vegetables. But, when the prosecutrix went inside the house, the

appellant suddenly caught hold of her hand, pressed her mouth, dragged

her inside the house and then took her into the store room where he

forcibly indulged in sexual intercourse with her.

4. The prosecutrix then immediately went back to her house and

disclosed the incident to her father, who in turn informed the mother of

the prosecutrix on phone. Thereupon, the mother of the prosecutrix came

home and took the prosecutrix to the police for lodging of complaint. On

the basis of the said complaint, First Information Report (F.I.R.) was

registered against the appellant in Police Station Gittikhadan, Nagpur for

offences under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code (I.P.C.) and the

POCSO Act. The prosecutrix was sent for medical examination and

seizure as well as spot panchanamas were conducted in the presence of

panch witnesses by the Investigating Officer (PW9). On the basis of the

investigation and charge-sheet submitted by the police, the trial Court

framed charges against the appellant under Section 376(2)(f) of the I.P.C.

and Section 6 read with Section 5(n) and (p) of the POCSO Act.

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5. In order to prove its case, the prosecution examined eleven

witnesses. These included, PW1-Prosecutrix, PW2-Mother of the

prosecutrix, PW3-Doctor who examined the prosecutrix, PW4-Doctor who

examined the appellant (accused), PW5-Maternal uncle of the prosecutrix

as well as panch witness for seizure of clothes and blood, PW6-Father of

the prosecutrix, PW7-Headmistress of the school attended by the

prosecutrix, PW8-Maternal grandfather of the prosecutrix and panch

witness on spot panchanama, PW9-Investigating Officer who recorded the

complaint and conducted the spot panchanama and PW11-Headmistress

of primary school attended by the prosecutrix. Documentary evidence

was also brought on record by the prosecution in the form of medical

records as well as F.S.L. report and school leaving certificate to prove the

age of the prosecutrix.

6. On the basis of the oral and documentary evidence on record,

the trial Court found that the prosecution had successfully proved that the

age of the prosecutrix at the time of the incident was less then eighteen

years and that therefore, she was covered under the definition of “child”

under Section 2(d) of the POCSO Act. It was also found by the trial Court

that the medical evidence on record as also the evidence of the

prosecutrix, corroborated by the evidence of other witnesses, conclusively

proved the guilt of the appellant. On this basis, the trial Court convicted

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and sentenced the appellant in the aforementioned manner. Aggrieved

by the said judgment and order, the present appeal has been filed.

7. Mr. A.Z. Gharde, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the

appellant, submitted that the present case was a case of false implication

because the appellant was a person related to the prosecutrix and her

mother and that he used to repeatedly scold them for their misbehaviour

and unacceptable behaviour. It was contended that the prosecutrix and

her mother had falsely implicated the appellant in order to take revenge

for the attitude of the appellant. The learned counsel vehemently

contended that there was insufficient material on record to prove that the

date of birth of the prosecutrix was 03.05.2000, as claimed by her and

that the evidence of the mother, read with the evidence of the

headmistress of the two schools attended by the prosecutrix, clearly

demonstrated that there was no cogent evidence to prove the claim of the

prosecutrix about her date of birth. On this basis, it was contended that

the provisions of the POCSO Act could not have been applied in the

present case.

8. As regards the merits of the matter, it was contended on

behalf of the appellant that the evidence of the prosecutrix was not

trustworthy and that there were material contradictions when it was

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considered in the context of evidence of the other witnesses. It was

contended that a perusal of the spot panchanama and the map of the spot

of incident demonstrated that the claim of the prosecutrix that she was

taken to the store room by the appellant was not believable. The map

and the admissions given in evidence by the PW5 demonstrated that there

was no direct access to the store room from the house of the appellant

and that if the appellant had to take the prosecutrix to the store room

from his house, he would necessarily have to go outside the house and

then enter the store room from the door that opened outside. It is

submitted that if this was actually done by the appellant at about 10.00

a.m. in the morning in the crowded colony of hutments where the

incident occurred, the appellant and the prosecutrix would not have gone

unnoticed. On this basis, it was contended that the manner in which the

incident was said to have occurred was wholly unbelievable. It was

further contended that the medical evidence in the form of the medical

examination report of the prosecutrix and the F.S.L. report demonstrated

that there were no signs of semen or blood on the clothes of the

prosecutrix. The report also demonstrated that there was no semen found

in the vaginal swab and further there were no injuries on the genitals or

body of the prosecutrix and the appellant. On this basis, it was contended

that the entire prosecution story was a falsehood and that if the

prosecutrix had been sexually assaulted by the appellant in the crowded

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area where the houses were made only of tin-sheets, any alarm raised by

the prosecutrix would not have gone unnoticed. On this basis, it was

contended that the trial Court judgment deserved to be set aside.

9. In support of his contentions, the learned counsel appearing

on behalf of the appellant relied upon the judgments of the Hon’ble

Supreme Court in the case of Alamelu Another Versus State (AIR 2011

SC 715), Ravindra Singh Gorkhi Versus State of U.P. (AIR 2006 SC

2157), State of Rajasthan Versus Babu Meena (AIR 2013 SC 2207).

10. Per contra, Learned Additional Public Prosecutor Mr.Vishal

Gangane appearing on behalf of the State, submitted that the findings of

the trial Court on merits as well as the age of the prosecutrix were based

on proper appreciation of the evidence on record and that the impugned

judgment and order passed by the trial Court did not deserve any

interference at the hands of this Court. It was submitted that insofar as

the question of proving the date of birth of the prosecutrix was

concerned, the school leaving certificate supported by the evidence of the

headmistresses of the two schools attended by the prosecutrix as also the

evidence of the prosecutrix and her mother, was sufficient material to

prove that the date of birth of the prosecutrix was indeed 03.05.2000. It

was contended that Rule 12 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection

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of Children) Rules, 2007, specifically provided that a certificate of date of

birth from the school first attended by a child shall be the conclusive

proof of age. It was contended that since the school leaving certificate in

the present case was indeed produced and proved by the prosecution,

there could be no doubt about the aforesaid fact. It was further

contended that the prosecutrix had emphatically stated in her evidence

that her date of birth was 03.05.20000 to which there was no cross-

examination on behalf of the appellant. On this basis, it was contended

that the prosecutrix was indeed a child and the appellant was correctly

proceeded against under the provisions of the POCSO Act. It was

contended that the prosecutrix had stated in detail as regards the incident

and the manner in which the appellant had indulged in forcible sexual

intercourse with her. It was contended that when the prosecution proved

that the prosecutrix was a child at the time of the incident, the

presumption under Section 29 of the POCSO Act operated against the

appellant (accused), which he had miserably failed to rebut. On this

basis, it was contended that the appeal deserved to be dismissed. Learned

Additional Public Prosecutor relied upon the judgment of the Hon’ble

Supreme Court in the case of State of M.P. Versus Anoop Singh [(2015) 7

SCC 773] and the judgment of the Division Bench of this Court in the

case of Kundan Nanaji Pendor Versus The State of Maharashtra [2017 All

M.R. (Cri) 1137].

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11. In order to examine as to whether the trial Court in the

present case was justified in convicting and sentencing the appellant

(accused) in the aforesaid manner, it is necessary to consider in detail,

the oral and documentary evidence on record. The prosecution

examined eleven witnesses of whom, PW1-Prosecutrix, PW7-

Headmistress of the school in which the prosecutrix had studied and

PW11-Headmistress of the primary school which the prosecutrix had

attended, are relevant for determining the question of date of birth of the

prosecutrix. The other witnesses are relevant for examining as to whether

the prosecution was able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt

against the appellant.

12. The question of date of birth of the prosecutrix assumes

importance in the present case because if the date of birth being

03.05.2000, as claimed by the prosecutrix, is accepted, she is covered

under the definition of “child” under Section 2(d) of the POCSO Act and

the presumption under Section 29 of the said Act comes into operation.

As per the said presumption, where a person is prosecuted for committing

offences under the provisions of POCSO Act, the Court has to assume the

fact that such acts were committed, unless the contrary stood proved. As

a result, determination of the fact of date of birth of the prosecutrix

assumes significance.

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13. The prosecutrix (PW1) in the present case has emphatically

stated in her examination-in-chief before the Court that her date of birth

was 03.05.2000. On this aspect, she has not been specifically cross-

examined on behalf of the defence. In order to prove the said date of

birth, a school leaving certificate pertaining to the prosecutrix has been

placed on record. This certificate was issued by a school which the

prosecutrix had attended. In support of the said school leaving certificate,

the prosecution has examined PW7-Headmistress of the said school. The

said witness has stated that the date of birth of the prosecutrix was

recorded as 03.05.2000 on the basis of the earlier school leaving

certificate issued by the school where the prosecutrix had attended

primary classes. It was also conceded in cross-examination by the

said witness that birth certificate of the prosecutrix or hospital papers

were not produced when the date of birth was recorded in the school

records.

14. The prosecution further examined PW11-Headmistress of the

primary school attended by the prosecutrix. The said witness did vouch

for the fact that the prosecutrix had attended the primary school but, in

the cross-examination, it was admitted that the date of birth of the

prosecutrix was informed by a relative and further that there was no entry

of any birth certificate produced by the relatives of the prosecutrix in the

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original admission register. It has been submitted on behalf of the

appellant that the aforesaid nature of evidence placed on record by the

prosecution was not sufficient to prove that the date of birth of the

prosecutrix was 03.05.2000 and that therefore, there was serious doubt

about whether the provisions of POCSO Act applied in the present case at

all. It was contended that when PW2-Mother of the prosecutrix had

conceded in the cross-examination that she did not handover any gram

panchayat document or any other document regarding birth of the

prosecutrix to the police, it was further evident that the aforesaid school

leaving certificate of the prosecutrix could not be relied upon to hold that

her date of birth was 03.05.2000.

15. In this regard, Rule 12(3) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and

Protection) Rules, 2007, becomes relevant as it pertains to the aspect of

determination of age of a victim of rape. The said rule has been referred

to and relied upon by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of State of

M.P. Versus Anoop Singh (supra) and it reads as follows:-

“12.3: In every case concerning a child or juvenile in
conflict with law, the age determination inquiry shall be
conducted by the court or the Board or, as the case may be,
the Committee by seeking evidence by obtaining

(i) the matriculation or equivalent certificates, if
available; and in the absence whereof;

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(ii) the date of birth certificate from the school

(other than a play school) first attended; and in the absence
whereof;

(iii) the birth certificate given by a corporation or a
municipal authority or a panchayat;

(b) and only in the absence of either (i), (ii) or (iii)
of clause (a) above, the medical opinion will be sought from
a duly constituted Medical Board, which will declare the age
of the juvenile or child. In case exact assessment of the age
cannot be done, the Court or the Board or, as the case may
be, the Committee, for the reasons to be recorded by them,
may, if considered necessary, give benefit to the child or
juvenile by considering his/her age on lower side within the
margin of one year, and, while passing orders in such case
shall, after taking into consideration such evidence as may
be available, or the medical opinion, as the case may be,
record a finding in respect of his age and either of the
evidence specified in any of the clauses (a)(i), (ii), (iii) or in
the absence whereof, clause (b) shall be the conclusive proof
of the age as regards such child or the juvenile in conflict
with law.”

16. By referring to the aforesaid rule, the Hon’ble Supreme Court

has held that the documents like matriculation or equivalent certificates,

date of birth certificate from school first attended and birth certificate

issued by Corporation or such Municipal authority can be used for

ascertaining the age of the prosecutrix. In the present case, the

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prosecution has placed on record school leaving certificate, wherein the

date of birth of the prosecutrix has been stated to be 03.05.2000. Under

the aforesaid rule, the said certificate would certainly be covered as one

of the documents for ascertaining the date of birth of the prosecutrix.

The prosecution has examined the headmistresses of the primary as well

as the subsequent school attended by the prosecutrix and both of them

supported the fact that 03.05.2000 was the date of birth of the

prosecutrix as per the school records. The learned counsel appearing for

the appellant has sought to attack the said evidence on the basis that the

two headmistresses, i.e. PW7 and PW11 have conceded to the fact that

the date of birth certificate of the prosecutrix issued by a corporation or

municipal authority was not on record. But, a perusal of the aforesaid

Rule 12(3) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Rules, 2007

shows that it is not only the birth certificate issued by a corporation or a

municipal authority that can be made the basis for ascertaining the date

of birth but, certificates issued by school attended by the prosecutrix can

also be used as a basis for determining the date of birth.

17. In the present case, when such a certificate was placed on

record and the headmistresses of the schools attended by the prosecutrix

were examined by the prosecution, it cannot be said that the prosecution

had failed to place on record sufficient evidence and material to prove

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that the date of birth of the prosecutrix was indeed 03.05.2000. In this

regard, the judgment relied upon by the learned counsel appearing on

behalf of the appellant, passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case

of Alamelu Versus State (supra), cannot be of much assistance to the

appellant because in the aforesaid case before the Supreme Court,

although transfer certificate issued by the school was placed on record,

headmistress of the school was not examined. It was for this reason that

the Hon’ble Supreme Court, held that such a document could not be held

to be reliable but, in the present case since two headmistresses were

examined as witnesses by the prosecution to prove the aforesaid school

leaving certificate, it cannot be said that the said judgment of the

Hon’ble Supreme Court would be of any assistance to the appellant.

Apart from this, learned A.P.P. for the respondent-State is justified in

relying upon judgment of Division Bench of this Court in the case of

Kundan Pendor Versus State (Supra), wherein it has been held that when

the prosecutrix is not cross-examined on her statement about date of

birth, the claim of the prosecutrix has to be accepted. In the present case

also, the prosecutrix was not cross-examined on this aspect. Hence, no

fault can be found with the findings rendered by the trial Court that the

provisions of POCSO Act were applicable in the present case because the

prosecutrix was a “child” as defined in Section 2(d) of the said Act.

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18. Once such a conclusion is arrived at, the presumption under

Section 29 of the POCSO Act comes into operation and it has to be

presumed that the acts alleged against the appellant (accused) were

indeed committed by him until the contrary stood proved. Therefore, the

burden becomes heavier on the defence in such cases. It is required to be

examined whether the evidence on record indicated that the appellant

(accused) was able to rebut the presumption to demonstrate that the

prosecution case was not made out. The presumption can be rebutted by

showing that on preponderance of probabilities the defence raised by the

accused was made out.

19. Section 29 of POCSO Act reads as follows:

“29. Presumption as to certain offences – Where a
person is prosecuted for committing or abetting or
attempting to commit any offence under Sections 3,5,7 and
Section 9 of this Act, the Special Court shall presume, that
such person has committed or abetted or attempted to
commit the offence, as the case may be unless the contrary is
proved.”

The abovequoted provision mandates that unless the accused proves to

the contrary, it would be presumed that he has committed offences under

the POCSO Act for which he is prosecuted. But, there can be no doubt

about the proposition that no presumption is absolute and that every

presumption is rebuttable. A statutory presumption of this nature can be

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rebutted by the accused on the touchstone of preponderance of

probabilities. In the case of Babu Versus State of Kerala [(2010) 9 SCC

189], the Hon’ble Supreme Court, while examining as to in what manner

presumption under a statute could operate against the accused has held

as follows:-

27. Every accused is presumed to be innocent unless
the guilt is proved. The presumption of innocence is a human
right. However, subject to the statutory exceptions, the said
principle forms the basis of criminal jurisprudence. For this
purpose, the nature of the offence, its seriousness and gravity
thereof has to be taken into consideration. The courts must
be on guard to see that merely on the application of the
presumption, the same may not lead to any injustice or
mistaken conviction. Statutes like Negotiable Instruments
Act, 1881; Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988; and Terrorist
and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987, provide for
presumption of guilt if the circumstances provided in those
Statutes are found to be fulfilled and shift the burden of proof
of innocence on the accused. However, such a presumption
can also be raised only when certain foundational facts are
established by the prosecution. There may be difficulty in
proving a negative fact.

28. However, in cases where the statute does not
provide for the burden of proof on the accused, it always lies
on the prosecution. It is only in exceptional circumstances,
such as those of statutes as referred to hereinabove, that the
burden on proof is on the accused. The statutory provision

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even for a presumption of guilt of the accused under a
particular statute must meet the tests of reasonableness and
liberty enshrined in Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
(Vide: Hiten P. Dalal v. Bratindranath Banerjee, (2001) 6
SCC 16; Narendra Singh v. State of M.P., AIR 2004 SC
3249; Rajesh Ranjan Yadav v. CBI, AIR 2007 SC 451; Noor
Aga v. State of Punjab Anr., (2008) 16 SCC 417; and
Krishna Janardhan Bhat v. Dattatraya G. Hegde, AIR 2008
SC 1325).”

20. In a recent judgment also, in the face of presumption under

Section 29 of the POCSO Act, this Court in Amol Dudhram Barsagade

Versus State of Maharashtra, [Criminal Appeal No.600/2017 Decided

on 23.04.2018] (Nagpur Bench), held as follows:-

“5. The learned Additional Public Prosecutor Shri S.S.
Doifode would strenuously contend that the statutory
presumption under Section 29 of the POCSO Act is absolute.

The date of birth of the victim 12.10.2001 is duly proved,
and is indeed not challenged by the accused, and the victim,
therefore, was a child within the meaning of Section 2(d) of
the POCSO Act, is the submission. The submission that the
statutory presumption under Section 29 of the POCSO Act is
absolute, must be rejected, if the suggestion is that even if
foundational facts are not established, the prosecution can
invoke the statutory presumption. Such an interpretation of
Section 29 of the POCSO Act would render the said provision
vulnerable to the vice of unconstitutionality. The statutory

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presumption would stand activated only if the prosecution
proves the foundational facts, and then, even if the statutory
presumption is activated, the burden on the accused is not to
rebut the presumption beyond reasonable doubt. Suffice it if
the accused is in a position to create a serious doubt about
the veracity of the prosecution case or the accused brings on
record material to render the prosecution version highly
improbable.”

21. Thus, the presumption that operates under Section 29 of

the POCSO Act is not absolute and it is triggered only when the

prosecution is able to prove the foundational facts in the first place. The

evidence placed on record by the prosecution is to be examined to first

come to the conclusion that the foundational facts of the prosecution case

have been established. The accused can rebut the presumption which

then arises, either by discrediting the prosecution witnesses by effective

cross-examination or by leading defence evidence. It is in this context

that the evidence of the prosecution in the present case needs to be

examined.

22. In the present case, the prosecutrix had claimed that the

appellant (accused), who happened to be the maternal uncle of her

mother and who was living in the adjacent house, had pulled her inside

his house and then he had taken her to the store room where he

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committed the act of forcible sexual intercourse. The evidence of the

prosecutrix (PW1), her maternal aunt (PW5) and her father (PW6) shows

that there is no direct access from the house of the appellant (accused) to

the store room where the incident had allegedly occurred. In this

connection, the map prepared by the prosecution while preparing the spot

panchanama also becomes relevant. The spot panchanama is at Exhibit

58, which includes the sketch map of the place of the incident. A perusal

of the same shows that there is no direct access from the house of the

accused to the store room in question. In fact, the prosecutrix (PW1) in

her cross-examination has stated to the effect that there are two doors to

the house of the accused, one for going to his house and the other for

going to the store room and both doors opened on the outside. The

maternal aunt of the prosecutrix, i.e. PW5 has stated in her cross-

examination that it was indeed true that in order to go to the store room

of the house of the appellant (accused), the way was from the front side.

The father of the prosecutrix, i.e. PW6 has also clearly stated in his cross-

examination that it was true that in order to go to the store room of the

house of the appellant (accused), the way was from the outside and that

there was no way from the inside. The aforesaid evidence points towards

the fact that if the incident had actually taken place in the store room, as

claimed by the prosecutrix (PW1), the appellant (accused) was required

to take the prosecutrix out of his house from the door and to go around

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and enter the store room from the door for entering into the store room.

This would necessarily require the appellant (accused) to come out of the

house and then enter the store room. Considering that the incident

allegedly took place at about 10.00 a.m. in the morning in a colony of

crowded hutments, it is difficult to believe that the appellant (accused)

taking the prosecutrix (PW1) from the house to the store room would

have gone unnoticed. Apart from this, PW6 (father of the prosecutrix)

had admitted in the cross-examination that there was only a tin sheet

between the house of the appellant (accused) and that of the prosecutrix.

In such a situation, any forcible sexual intercourse by the appellant

(accused) on the prosecutrix (PW1) would not have gone unnoticed,

particularly when the hutments were located very close to each other.

Therefore, there is doubt created about the manner in which the incident

is said to have occurred.

23. Apart from this, the medical evidence on record shows that

there was neither any blood nor semen found on the clothes of the

prosecutrix. The medical examination report of the prosecutrix shows

that the hymen was found to be torn, but, there were no injuries to the

body or the private part of the prosecutrix. In the cross-examination, the

doctor (PW4) has conceded that if the tear on the hymen was fresh then

she would have written the said fact in the medical examination report.

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This leads to the conclusion that the tear in the hymen was not fresh.

Although, this may not necessarily be a clinching point in favour of the

defence, but absence of any injuries on the genitals or any other body part

of the prosecutrix, coupled with the fact that the prosecutrix and the

appellant could not have reached the store room without coming out of

the house of the appellant, demonstrates that serious doubt is created

about the manner in which the incident is said to have occurred in the

present case.

24. In this backdrop, it becomes significant that the maternal aunt

of the prosecutrix, i.e. PW5 has stated in cross-examination that the

appellant (accused) used to scold the prosecutrix and her mother for

various reasons. The appellant has also stated in his statement recorded

under Section 313 of Cr.P.C. that he was falsely implicated because he

used to scold the prosecutrix and her mother. The appellant (accused)

was admittedly the maternal uncle of the mother of the prosecutrix. It is

probable that he would have been scolding the prosecutrix and her

mother on certain issues that have been indicated by the defence. The

aforesaid prosecution witnesses, i.e. PW5 and PW6, have indeed admitted

this in the cross-examination. As the description of the incident of alleged

forcible sexual intercourse appears to be doubtful for the reasons

mentioned above, it is probable that the appellant (accused) was sought

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Cri.Appeal 579/17 21 Judgment

to be falsely implicated by the prosecutrix and her mother in the present

case. The complete absence of any medical evidence to support the

claims of the prosecutrix and the doubt created by the evidence on record

as regards the manner in which the incident was said to have occurred,

demonstrates that on preponderance of probabilities, the appellant

(accused) has been able to rebut the presumption under Section 29 of the

POCSO Act.

25. In fact, for the presumption to operate, as observed earlier,

it is necessary that the foundational facts are established by the

prosecution, which in the present case, does not appear to have been

done by the prosecution. This aspect has not been taken into

consideration by the trial Court while holding against the appellant

(accused). The findings rendered by the trial Court on the absence of any

hue and cry raised by the prosecutrix as her family was already under

“psychological and economic influence” of the appellant (accused) are

also based on mere conjectures. The absence of an internal access or

door to the store room of the appellant (accused) has also been ignored

by the trial Court and it has not been appreciated in the correct

perspective while holding that the prosecution story could not be

disbelieved.

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Cri.Appeal 579/17 22 Judgment

26. Thus, on an overall analysis of the evidence and material on

record, it becomes clear that the trial Court was not justified in holding

that the case against the appellant (accused) had been proved beyond

reasonable doubt and that he deserved to be convicted and sentenced in

the aforementioned manner.

27. Accordingly, the criminal appeal is allowed. The impugned

judgment and order passed by the trial Court is set aside and the

appellant (accused) is acquitted of the charges levelled against him.

Consequently, the appellant is directed to be released from the custody

forthwith, if not required in any other case.

JUDGE

APTE

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