The trauma of a victim does not end with the incident and real-life issues may compel a victim to forgo all the trauma which she had undergone: Bombay High Court

The trauma of a victim does not end with the incident and real-life issues may compel a victim to “forgo all the trauma which she had undergone and to take U turn,” at the time of trial. This was held in Imran Shabbir Gauri vs The State of Maharashtra [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 831 OF 2015] in the High Court of New Delhi by division bench consisting of Honourable Justice Prasanna B. Varale & S.M. MODAK.

The facts consist the man took the young girl to the bungalow where he was working, sexually assaulted her, and threatened her of dire consequences if she spoke about the incident to anyone. This was allegedly done several times. He also took victims nude images and threatened to publish them on social media. The case came to light when the girl narrated the incidents to her sister, who in turn informed the mother.

The counsel for the appellant argued that the victim had not supported her case before the trial court, and the court had had wrongly convicted his client by relying on the victim’s statement u/s 164 of the CrPc.

The Bench opined that the trial court could not have relied on the victims 164 statement to convict the accused, calling it “corroborative evidence,” in the absence of her testimony. We fail to understand what the trial court meant to say, corroboration of which fact? If the evidence of the principal fact is not there, the evidence adduced of the subsequent fact how it can be used for corroboration.”

The court observed that the victim was the “sole witness” of the incident and this didn’t seem like a case where she was initially tutored to make allegations against the father. “It is difficult to opine what compelled the victim not to state those facts which she has stated before the police.” Lastly, the Bench said in the zeal of protecting the interest of the victim, it cannot give go-bye to accepted principles.

The Bench passed the order while acquitting a 39-year-old man accused of raping his minor 14-year-old step-daughter, after the victim refused to support her statement given under section 164 of the CrPc, at the time of trial. The court, however, upheld his conviction under the Information Technology (IT) Act for taking the child’s nude photographs on his mobile phone. The bench held that the amendment was required to avoid a similar situation in future.

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