The high court of Orissa passed a judgment on 02 April 2023, and has Set aside the conviction and sentence handed to a man who was accused of rape because the State Defense Attorney who represented him in the Trial Court was not provided access to police records or given enough time to prepare for the victim’s cross-examination in the case of Khudia Khudiram Tudu v. State of Odisha (JCRLA No. 76 of 2019), passed by the single Judge Bench Justice Sangam Kumar Sahoo.
Facts of the case
The informant’s crippled daughter was the victim of a rape that the appellant was accused of committing because he was related to the informant’s son-in-law. The accusation was brought against him in the court of the third additional session judge in Balasore. The Trial Court found the appellant guilty in accordance with section 376(2)(l) of the IPC and sentenced him to ten years of rigorous imprisonment, a fine of Rs. 5,000, and, in default, another year of R.I. The appellant sought the High Court and filed this appeal after feeling wronged by the aforementioned ruling. According to the argument, the SDC only had a limited amount of time to read the case files carefully, thoroughly prepare the case, and interact with the appellant. As a result, under pressure from the Trial Court, he only asked the victim a few questions during the cross-examination before ending it. To have the conviction overturned and the case sent back for another trial, it was prayed to the court.
After reviewing the Trial Court’s order sheet, the Court concluded that the concerned Judge had made up his mind to record the victim’s testimony on that particular day. Even though it was noted in the order sheet that the victim had visited the court on multiple occasions, the court could not locate any mention of this in the order sheets from the earlier dates. As a result, Judge Sahoo expressed her grave unhappiness with how the cross-examination was handled. The Court concluded that the SDC was not given the requisite time to adequately prepare the case and cross-examine the victim.
Hence, the Trial Court was instructed to conduct a new trial beginning with the stage of cross-examination after setting aside the impugned judgment of conviction of the appellant under Section 376(2)(l) of the IPC.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY HARSHEEN KAUR LUTHRA, RGNUL, PUNJAB