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The life and liberty of the victim to be considered while granting bail to the accused in a sexual offence: Allahabad High Court

While granting a bail to the accused in a sexual offence, the behavior, position and standing of the accused in adversely affecting the witnesses and coercing the victim and her parents especially in rural areas where the society is not very open must be duly considered on a case-to-case basis. The Hon’ble Justice Vikas Kunvar Srivastav decreed, “Looking into the sensitivity of the of matter, possibility of fleeing away of accused-applicant from the process of the court, possibility of adversely affecting the witnesses, prosecutrix, the application is liable to be rejected” in Monish Vs. State of U.P. [BAIL No. – 1419 of 2021].

 The brief facts of the case are, the victim had gone out of her house to urinate in the night when the accused caught her, dragged her and raped her. An FIR was filed and a charge sheet against the accused was submitted in the court under Section 376 of the IPC. A bail plea was filed by the applicant in the sessions court which was duly rejected. Aggrieved by this, the applicant filed a Bail Application before the Hon’ble High Court of Allahabad.

The counsel for the applicant submitted to the court that the accused was falsely implicated since the girl was above the age of 18 and has consented to the sexual intercourse and argued that there were material contradictions in her statements made under Section 161 of the CrPC and Section 164 CrPC. Furthermore, he added that the medical evidence proved that the hymen was old torn and thus the victim was used to sexual intercourse. The counsel for the respondent contended that there are no findings of deviation in both the statements recorded. He also argued that the hymen being torn cannot be an indicator of habitual sexual intercourse and placed heavy reliance on the age of the victim. He also added that the medical evidence cannot override the statement of the victim.

The learned judge after listening to the submissions of both the parties rejected the bail application. He analyzed the factors considered for the grant or refusal of bail in correspondence with the facts of this case. It was observed that the accused belonged to the same village as that of the victim and thus had the power and standing to influence the witnesses and coerce the victim and her family. This could be a threat to the life and liberty of the victim and her family. He also observed that there were no material deviations in the statements of the victim and thus were credible. Furthermore, the learned judge added “The statement of victim and the prosecution case as to the offence of rape is therefore prima facie worthy of credence, corroboration by medical evidence is not necessary”.

The court relied on Aparna Bhat & Ors. Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh & Anr. [2021 SCC SC 230] where the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that, “In India, the culprits are often known to the woman; the social and economic “costs” of reporting such crimes are high. General economic dependence on family and fear of social ostracization act as significant disincentives for women to report any kind of sexual violence, abuse or abhorrent behaviour. Therefore, the actual incidence of violence against women in India is probably much higher than the data suggests, and women may continue to face hostility and have to remain in environments where they are subject to violence.” Considering that the victim is from a village where there are prejudices against the victim rather than the offender, the court rejected the bail application.

Click here to read the judgement.

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