The appellant deserves “Benefit of Doubt”: Patna High Court

Apart from the factum of compromise, rather even after ignoring compromise, the prosecution evidence does not inspire confidence regarding the connection between the offenses alleged and the involvement of the appellant. Hence, the appellant deserves the benefit of the doubt. This auspicious judgment was passed by the Hon’ble High Court of Patna in the matter of Vakil Paswan, Son of Shankar Paswan, Resident of Village – Karma, Police Station – Chenery, District – Rohtas at Sasaram Versus the State of Bihar [CRIMINAL APPEAL (SJ) No.3154 of 2019] by MR. JUSTICE BIRENDRA KUMAR.

This appeal was against the judgment of conviction against a case registered under Sections 376/511 of the Indian Penal Code where the learned Trial Judge found the appellant guilty for offenses under Sections 376/511, 354, and 354(B) of the Indian Penal Code. The learned Trial Judge awarded rigorous imprisonment for seven years and a fine of rupees five thousand for an offense under Sections 376/511 of the Indian Penal Code and in default of payment of fine rigorous imprisonment of one year was ordered. Likewise, three years’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of rupees one thousand were awarded for an offense under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code, and in default of payment of fine, there is the direction of one-month rigorous imprisonment. For offense under Section 354(B) of the Indian Penal Code, rigorous imprisonment of five years was awarded besides fine of rupees two thousand, and in default of payment of fine, the appellant was directed to undergo further four months’ rigorous imprisonment. The sentences had been ordered to run concurrently by the impugned order.

It was stated by the prosecutrix that while she was sleeping inside her house after closing the doors, the appellant jumped over the boundary wall and entered the room of the informant along with a gun. The appellant sat on the body of the informant and caught her breast, started to disrobe her but the victim made an alarm, and the neighbors Laxman Paswan (P.W. 1), Saroj Paswan (P.W. 2) came then only she could save herself. She stated that the husband and brother of the husband were outside the village to earn their livelihood. Hence, no male was there in the house. Learned counsel for the appellant contends that there was a lack of reliable evidence on the identity of the appellant to be involved in the occurrence. Hence, the judgment of conviction is not sustainable in law. According to learned counsel, other witnesses were hearsay witnesses not corroborated by the prosecutrix. Hence, their testimony had got no evidentiary value.

Later, learned counsel for the State-respondent contents that, in fact, the parties entered into a compromise and due to compromise, the complainant changed her statement in the cross-examination. The learned Trial Judge had taken note of the Supreme Court judgment that in such a serious case, compromise should not be encouraged. Hence, the conviction of the appellant for the offenses proved does not require any interference.

The court stated that “she deposed that due to darkness, she could not identify the accused but she never denied the incident. The prosecution case is further supported by the fact that the accused had tried to put pressure on the prosecutrix to compromise, only because he was guilty”. The second part of the finding above is an error of record. There is no evidence that the prosecutrix entered into a compromise under pressure, rather the evidence shows that she has voluntarily compromised the case and counter case both.”

Also, “the appellant deserves the benefit of the doubt. According to the prosecutrix, other family members were there in another room at the time of the occurrence, but they were not examined as prosecution evidence.”

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