Taking advantage of the mental condition of the victim should be dealt with an iron hand: Supreme Court of India

The order passed by the High Court in reversing the order of acquittal and convicting the accused of the offenses under Sections 376 & 506 IPC was justified by the Supreme Court in the case of Chaman Lal v. State of Himachal Pradesh, [Criminal Appeal No. 1229 of 2017], by the Hon’ble Justice M.R. Shah.

It was alleged that the accused had sexual intercourse with the prosecutrix forcibly and without her consent. On medical examination, it was found that the prosecutrix was eight months pregnant. The prosecutrix was mentally retarded and gave birth to a female child. Blood samples of the prosecutrix, the baby, and the accused were taken for a DNA test and the was found that the accused was the biological father of the female child. The accused was arrested and charged with offenses under Section 376 and 506 of IPC. The learned trial Court acquitted the accused mainly on the ground of delay in lodging the FIR and also on the ground that the prosecutrix was not mentally unsound to understand the consequences and what was happening.

Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and order of acquittal passed by the learned Trial court, the state preferred an appeal before the High Court. The High Court reversed the order of the trial court and ordered for the conviction of the accused under the charged offenses. On an appeal filed by the accused in the Supreme Court, it was observed that it is required to be noted that by the impugned judgment and order, the High Court has convicted the accused for the offenses under Section 376 and 506 IPC. It is required to be noted that on reappreciation of the evidence, the High Court has found that the IQ of the victim was very low and she was suffering from mental illness and was not in a position to understand the good and bad aspects of sexual assault.  In the statement filed by the accused under Section 313 of CrPC, he had denied that he had sexual intercourse with the prosecutrix. But the same was proved after the DNA test. Thus the accused came with a false defense.

Reliance was placed in the case of Babu v. State of Kerala, (2010) 9 SCC 189), where it was held that while dealing with a judgment of acquittal, the appellate court has to consider the entire evidence on record, so as to arrive at a finding as to whether the views of the trial court were perverse or otherwise sustainable. Therefore, the High Court is justified in reversing the order of acquittal and convicting the accused for the offenses under Sections 376 & 506 IPC. The appeal was dismissed.

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