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Minor contradictions in the prosecution witness cannot suppress the broader truth: Calcutta High Court

In matter holding nexus between the offence of kidnapping and the subsequent witness cross-examination, it has been observed by the Calcutta High Court Appellate Bench that any minor contradictions in witness statement shall not eclipse the solemnness of the offence. The single judge bench of Tirthankar Ghosh J. in the matter of Haradan Dutta v State of West Bengal [CRA 672 of 2016] opined that the witnesses should be given a reasonable margin of error in recollection of their statements.

The present appeal has been preferred against the judgment and order of conviction and sentence dated 27.09.2016 and 28.09.2016 passed by the learned Additional District & Sessions Judge, Calcutta, in connection with Sessions Trial No. 2(4)2013 arising out of Sessions Case No. 05 of 2013 where the appellant was held guilty for commission of offences punishable under Sections 363 and 366A of the Indian Penal Code. The genesis of the case relates to a statement of the victim girl namely, Rangila Khatoon, who had been led on by the accused. The statement was recorded by Sub-Inspector of Police attached to Detective Department on 06.08.2012 pursuant to which investigation was registered under Section 366A/372/511/120B of the Indian Penal Code.
The court reiterated that it was a settled proposition of law that the answers given by the accused in course of examination under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure could be used as an aid to lend credence to the evidence given by the prosecution. In the present case, it was revealed that throughout the cross-examination the truthfulness of the prosecution version was challenged to the limited extent of the veracity of the witnesses who had been deposing before the Court. It was only for the first time while being examined under Section 313 of Cr.P.C. that the accused took a plea.

The court while referring the literature u/S 363 of IPC turned to the judgment in Thakorlal D. Vadgama Vs. State of Gujarat, (1973) 2 SCC 413 wherein it was construed that the word “takes” does not necessarily connote taking by force and it was not confined only to use of force, actual or constructive. This word merely means, “to cause to go”, “to escort” or “to get into possession”. No doubt it does mean physical taking, but not necessarily by use of force or fraud. The word “entice” seems to involve the idea of inducement or allurement by giving rise to hope or desire in the other. This can take many forms, difficult to visualise and describe exhaustively; some of them may be quite subtle, depending for their success on the mental state of the person at the time when the inducement is intended to operate.

Needless to state that the victim apart from being a minor was illiterate, below the poverty level (as the evidence reflects that she was working as a maid servant) and the evidence was recorded after a considerable period of time since the commission of the offence. So, the contention of the appellant that the complainant being the victim has consistently changed her stand is to be viewed with regard to her ability to present all the facts in a chronological manner, which in fact, is impossible if a true set of facts are to be placed before a Court of law. The veracity of the evidence of the victim, so far as the core allegations are concerned are consistent and minor contradictions in this case cannot suppress the ring of truth in her version

 The court ruled that “On an analysis of the evidence of the prosecution witnesses and the examination under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, this Court finds that the judgment and order of conviction and sentence so passed by the Ld. Trial Court do not suffer from any infirmity and as such no interference is called for.

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