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A prosecution witness’s statement cannot be said to be invalid merely because he has enmity with the accused: High Court of Chhattisgarh

In a criminal trial, the statement of a prosecution witness cannot be said to be invalid solely on grounds that there is some dispute or enmity with the accused. The case will be built based on how the statement corroborates with the evidence and other witness statements. This was held in the judgement passed by a single member bench of the High Court of Chhattisgarh consisting of Justice Arvind Singh Chandel in the case of Aatmaram Sahu v State of Chhattisgarh [CRA No. 180 of 2016] pronounced on the 14th of July 2021.

The appellant, Aatmaram Sahu was convicted by a learned Additional Sessions Judge, Bemetara on 27th July 2015 under Sections 376 and 506 Part-II of the Indian Penal Code for rape and criminal intimidation as well as Section 6 of POCSO for aggravated penetrative sexual assault against a minor. The appellant was sentenced to undergo 10 years of rigorous imprisonment for each of his crimes by the sessions court. The prosecutrix is the 12-year-old daughter of the appellant. The mother of the prosecutrix left the prosecutrix from her early childhood and she was residing with her uncle Roopchand Sahu since then. However, after the marriage of Roopchand Sahu, the prosecutrix began residing with her father, the appellant. The appellant allegedly committed forcible sexual intercourse with the prosecutrix five times and threatened her for her life to not disclose it to anyone.

When the prosecutrix’s uncles Roopchand Sahu and Bhikhamchand Sahu got to know about the numerous rapes, the report was lodged against the appellant. Based on a medical report by Dr Anamika Minj and statements by 15 prosecution witnesses including Roopchand Sahu, the appellant was convicted by the sessions court. The appellant in the present appeal contended that the main prosecution witness Roopchand Sahu and he had personal disputes and enmity for a long time and the entire case was fabricated as an act of revenge by him. As a result of this, the appellant prayed that the conviction be set aside as there was no truth to it. The High Court stated that the statements made by the prosecutrix and her uncle were duly corroborated by all the other prosecution witnesses and furthermore the sufficient evidence available on record against the appellant and the crime has duly proven his guilt.

Justice Arvind Singh Chandel concluded that “Though from the admission made by Roopchand Sahu that there was some dispute taken place between him and the Appellant. But, I do not found any substance with regard to the argument advanced by learned Counsel for the Appellant that Roopchand Sahu provoked the prosecutrix and she lodged a report against the Appellant. There is nothing on record on the basis of which statement of the prosecutrix can be disbelieved”. Consequently, the appeal was said to have no merit and was dismissed.

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