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Allahabad HC acquits a man jailed for 20 years on rape charges

The court noted the ‘sorry state of affairs’ and mentioned that even after 14 years of incarceration, the State did not think of reversing his life sentence

Sabrangindia 09 Feb 2021

Image Courtesy:barandbench.com

The High Court has set aside the conviction of man jailed for 20 years on allegations of rape, criminal intimidation and also booked under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 after nearly two decades.

A Division Bench of Justices Kaushal Thaker and Gautam Chaudhary also expressed their grief at the sorry state of affairs that led to his long imprisonment. The court said, “Most unfortunate, aspect of this litigation is that the appeal was preferred through jail. The matter remained as a defective matter for a period of 16 years and, therefore, we normally do not mention defective appeal number but we have mentioned the same. This defective conviction appeal was taken up as listing application was filed by the learned counsel appointed by Legal Services Authority on December 12, 2012 with a special mention that accused is in jail in the last 20 years.”

The appellant had been in jail since September 16, 2000 and only on January 28, 2021, his appeal challenging a 2003 Sessions Court conviction was allowed by the High Court. The Bench also came down heavily on the Government of Uttar Pradesh because it failed to recommend his case for remission of sentence or to commute the sentence under sections 432 and 434 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The relevant section of the judgment read, “We are pained to mention that even after 14 years of incarceration, the State did not think of exercising its power for commutation of sentence of life imprisonment of the present accused and it appears that power of Governor provided under Article 161 of the Constitution of India are also not exercised though there are restriction to such power to commute sentence.

"The object of Sections 432 read with Section 433 of the Cr.PC. is to remit the sentence awarded to the accused if it appears that the offence committed by him is not so grave. In our case, we do not see that why the accused is not entitled to remission. His case should have been considered but has not been considered. Remission/ commutation of sentence under Sections 433 and 434 of the Cr.PC. is in the realm of power vested in the Government.

"The factual scenario in the present case would show that had the Government thought of taking up the case of the accused as per jail manual, it would have been found that the case of the appellant was not so grave that it could not have been considered for remission / commutation.”

The High Court then considered the evidence on record to decide if the appellant’s conviction should be set aside. The Bench observed that the medical reports displayed “no definite opinion on rape” and that the testimony of the prosecutrix cannot be said to be that of a “sterling witness”. The High Court also observed that the Trial court erred as it did not discuss the evidence to show that the act was committed because of the caste of the prosecutrix.

Hence, the Bench held, “In view of the facts and evidence on record, we are convinced that the accused has been wrongly convicted, hence, the judgment and order impugned is reversed and the accused is acquitted. The accused appellant, if not warranted in any other case, be set free forthwith.”

The judgment may be read here:

Related:

SC grants bail to undertrial in prison for 12 years without trial
If timely trial not possible and accused spent considerable time in jail, courts obligated to grant bail: SC in UAPA
UAPA accused undertrial Kanchan Nanaware dies in custody after prolonged illness
Delhi HC: Plea for release of under trials who completed half their maximum sentence

Allahabad HC acquits a man jailed for 20 years on rape charges

The court noted the ‘sorry state of affairs’ and mentioned that even after 14 years of incarceration, the State did not think of reversing his life sentence

Image Courtesy:barandbench.com

The High Court has set aside the conviction of man jailed for 20 years on allegations of rape, criminal intimidation and also booked under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 after nearly two decades.

A Division Bench of Justices Kaushal Thaker and Gautam Chaudhary also expressed their grief at the sorry state of affairs that led to his long imprisonment. The court said, “Most unfortunate, aspect of this litigation is that the appeal was preferred through jail. The matter remained as a defective matter for a period of 16 years and, therefore, we normally do not mention defective appeal number but we have mentioned the same. This defective conviction appeal was taken up as listing application was filed by the learned counsel appointed by Legal Services Authority on December 12, 2012 with a special mention that accused is in jail in the last 20 years.”

The appellant had been in jail since September 16, 2000 and only on January 28, 2021, his appeal challenging a 2003 Sessions Court conviction was allowed by the High Court. The Bench also came down heavily on the Government of Uttar Pradesh because it failed to recommend his case for remission of sentence or to commute the sentence under sections 432 and 434 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The relevant section of the judgment read, “We are pained to mention that even after 14 years of incarceration, the State did not think of exercising its power for commutation of sentence of life imprisonment of the present accused and it appears that power of Governor provided under Article 161 of the Constitution of India are also not exercised though there are restriction to such power to commute sentence.

"The object of Sections 432 read with Section 433 of the Cr.PC. is to remit the sentence awarded to the accused if it appears that the offence committed by him is not so grave. In our case, we do not see that why the accused is not entitled to remission. His case should have been considered but has not been considered. Remission/ commutation of sentence under Sections 433 and 434 of the Cr.PC. is in the realm of power vested in the Government.

"The factual scenario in the present case would show that had the Government thought of taking up the case of the accused as per jail manual, it would have been found that the case of the appellant was not so grave that it could not have been considered for remission / commutation.”

The High Court then considered the evidence on record to decide if the appellant’s conviction should be set aside. The Bench observed that the medical reports displayed “no definite opinion on rape” and that the testimony of the prosecutrix cannot be said to be that of a “sterling witness”. The High Court also observed that the Trial court erred as it did not discuss the evidence to show that the act was committed because of the caste of the prosecutrix.

Hence, the Bench held, “In view of the facts and evidence on record, we are convinced that the accused has been wrongly convicted, hence, the judgment and order impugned is reversed and the accused is acquitted. The accused appellant, if not warranted in any other case, be set free forthwith.”

The judgment may be read here:

Related:

SC grants bail to undertrial in prison for 12 years without trial
If timely trial not possible and accused spent considerable time in jail, courts obligated to grant bail: SC in UAPA
UAPA accused undertrial Kanchan Nanaware dies in custody after prolonged illness
Delhi HC: Plea for release of under trials who completed half their maximum sentence

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