Saganna Vs. The State Of Karnataka

Court: Karnataka High Court

Bench: JUSTICE Anand Byrareddy

Saganna vs The State Of Karnataka on 20 February, 2013

Legal Point:Willing partner, complainant had opportunity to complain on many occasions, continued to stay with accused. Acquital.

JUDGEMENT

 

Heard the learned counsel for the appellant and the learned Government Pleader for the respondent.

2. The facts of the case are as follows:

The present appellant was the accused. It was alleged that he and the so called victim are residents of Kunnoor village. The girl was studying in V.P. Nayak College, at Wadi. It is alleged that the appellant was constantly following her and seeking to befriend her. On 31.03.2008 at about 9.00 AM it is alleged that the appellant had managed to entice the girl to accompany him on the pretext of the appellant being in love with her and wanting to marry her and that her father was also agreeable to this and that he was in fact waiting at the bus stand in a bus and he had asked her to follow him. It is this, according to the prosecution, which compelled her to follow the appellant to the bus station and she had boarded the bus along with the appellant. He had then taken her to Yadgir, Shahapur and from there to Bangalore and also to Badanwal village by bus. He had taken a house on rent from one Shivamma, wife of Narayan Swamy at the said village and the appellant as well as the girl had stayed there and lived as husband and wife. It is alleged by the prosecution that she was detained in the house and confined to the house by the appellant for a period of 68 days and throughout the period he had forcible sexual intercourse with her and hence the charge. It is the case of the prosecution that the appellant was traced for the first time when he was produced on 13.06.2008 before the committal Court namely the Court of Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate First Class, Chittapur. He was represented by an Advocate. On completion of the investigation, a charge sheet was submitted and a case registered. The Sessions Court in turn has made over the case to the II Additional Sessions Judge at Gulbarga and after further proceedings, charges having been framed for offences punishable under Sections 366, 344, 376 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Hereinafter referred to as the ‘IPC‘, for brevity). The accused had pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried. The prosecution went to trial and examined 21 witnesses and marked Exs.P-1 to P-9 apart from M.O.1 and M.O.2. The statement of the accused was recorded underSection 313 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Hereinafter referred to as ‘Cr.P.C.’, for brevity). On the basis of the material evidence and the rival contentions, the Court below has framed the following points for consideration:

1. Whether the prosecution proves that on 31.03.2008 at about 9.00 a.m. within the premises of V.P.Naik college Wadi the accused had kidnapped the victim girl with intent that she may be compelled to marry him knowing it to be likely that she will be forced to illicit intercourse and thereby committed an offence under section 366 of Indian Penal Code?

2. Whether the prosecution proves that on the above said date time and place the accused having kidnapped the victim girl had taken her to different places such as Yadgir, Shahapur, Bangalore and Nanjungud and confined her at Badanwal for a period of more than 10 days in the house of one Shivamma wife of Narayan Swamy and thereby committed an offence U/Sec.344 of Indian Penal Code?

3. Whether the prosecution proves that on the above said dates, time and places during the journey from place to place and in course of wrongful confinement the accused criminally intimidated the victim girl by giving a threat to take away her life and caused alarm to her and thereby committed an offence U/Sec.506 of Indian Penal Code?

4. Whether the prosecution proves that during his stay with the victim girl in the house of Shivamma at Badanwal village the accused had forcible sexual intercourse with the victim girl without her consent and thereby committed an offence U/Sec.376 of Indian Penal Code?”

The Court below answered point Nos.1 to 4 in the affirmative and has held that the prosecution had proved its case beyond all reasonable doubt and has convicted the accused for the offences punishable under all the aforesaid sections and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for a period of 5 years and to pay a fine of Rs.10,000/- for the offence punishable under Section 366 of the IPC. Further imprisonment for a period of one year and fine of Rs.5,000/- for offence punishable under Section 344 of the IPC, simple imprisonment for a period of one year for offence punishable under Section 504 of the IPC and to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 7 years and to pay a fine of Rs.5,000/- for the offence punishable under Section 376 of the IPC. It is that, which is under challenge in the present appeal.

3. The learned counsel for the appellant while taking this Court through the record to reiterate the sequence of events, would point out that the conduct of the complainant would not indicate that she was the victim of any crime. She was more than 18 years old. There was no dispute on this and she was a college going girl and therefore, was fully aware of the circumstances. The allegation that the appellant had kidnapped her from the college premises on the pretext that he wanted to marry her and that her father was all for such marriage and that he was in fact waiting in the bus for them to come and to join, is a preposterous suggestion. In any event, the further allegation that she had followed him without demur to the bus station and had boarded the bus and even after she found that her father was not there in the bus, to have accompanied him to Yadgir and thereafter to Shahapur, from Shahapur to Bangalore and from Bangalore to Badanwal village and having stayed with the appellant for 68 days in a rented house, without any kind of objection or complaint of her predicament, to any person, when she had ample opportunity to do so, will indeed indicate that there was a consensual relationship between the appellant and the complainant and the kidnapping and forcible sexual relationship on the footing that the appellant had put her in fear of her life and limb and therefore she had succumbed to the dictates of the appellant is opposed to common sense and logic. It would not be accepted of a fully grown woman who was worldly wise, to meekly succumb to the dictates of the appellant. It was not a situation where the appellant had forced himself on her and had confined her for a few hours or a few days in a secluded place. Admittedly, it was a village and they had stayed in a rented house and they had stayed there for not less than 68 days. Hence, it could not be said that the complainant was helpless in seeking the assistance of other persons to gain her freedom, if she was confined and to complain about her being forcibly detained by the appellant.

It is pointed out by the learned counsel for the appellant that it would be impossible for the appellant to have kept her in such confinement continuously, without the assistance of others, when he was also required to attend to his own personal needs, day-in and day-out, and therefore, every possibility of the complainant gaining her freedom and raising a voice against the torment, if any, caused by the appellant, was available to her. Therefore, the Court below proceeding on the footing that there was no consent to sexual intercourse by the complainant, even though she had remained in the company of the appellant for over 68 days, is beyond logic and is a negation of the apparent circumstance, which would clearly indicate that these cannot be a presumption of the continued influence or the power allegedly wielded by the appellant over the complainant being present throughout the said period of confinement.

The learned counsel would point out that the evidence is misconstrued and could hardly be cited in support of the case of the prosecution. It is pointed out that the prosecution has mainly relied on the evidence of PW-1 the father of the complainant and PW-2 the complainant herself and PWs-4, 7, 10, 12 and 13 other than the panch and police witnesses. The evidence of PW-1 and PW-4 is mainly on the aspect of the complainant being a student of a particular college from where she disappeared. PW-4 is the younger brother of the complainant’s father, who had dropped her at college on the day that she went missing. In so far as the aspect of kidnapping the complainant from the premises of the college is concerned, PW-16 and PW-17 are examined. However, they did not support the case of the prosecution and were treated as hostile witnesses. The further allegation that the appellant had enticed the complainant to accompany him to the bus station on the pretext that her father was waiting there and when it was found that her father was indeed not present, the learned counsel for the appellant would point out that the first reaction would be that the complainant to have raised an objection and to have immediately withdrawn, when there was no possibility of the appellant using physical force in the presence of members of the public, who would be present at the bus station. That was not the conduct of the complainant and she had meekly gone along with the appellant as if she was a child who was helpless and was in terror of the appellant. The appellant was also a young man and was not capable of putting her in such a fear of death, as is sought to be made out, even if there were alleged threats by the appellant as claimed by the prosecution. The prosecution has gone to the extent of alleging that the appellant was carrying a knife with which he threatened her in the bus not to raise an alarm. This, the learned counsel for the appellant would point out that, is highly improbable and it would not be expected of the appellant to brandish a knife and threaten her openly in the bus in the presence of several passengers and the conductor. Therefore, the only presumption would be to hold that the complainant had willfully accompanied the appellant to the bus and had boarded the bus along with him with an intention to go along with him and the fact that they had traveled not to one place but 3 places namely Yadgir, Shahapur, Bangalore and then finally landing up at Badanwal village where they had rented a house, would require them to change several buses moving about in several public places and ultimately to reach a village where they have negotiated a house for rent, would leave several opportunities for the complainant to have raised an alarm at every single point of time, which she has not chosen to do. Therefore, the Court has been extremely naive in accepting the story of the prosecution as to the complainant having been forced to succumb herself to the dictates of the appellant.

The further aspect that the appellant and the complainant stayed together for 68 days in a rented house and lived as husband and wife, would belie the further claim that she had been raped over the period by the appellant putting her in mortal fear. This is an exaggeration beyond all measure of the prosecution and is incapable of being accepted, given the age and mental capacity as well as the fact that the complainant was an educated woman. Apart from the say of the complainant and her father, there is no incriminating evidence that is available to bring home the charges against the appellant. It is in this limited vein, that the learned counsel for the appellant would contend that no case whatsoever would be made out of commission of the alleged offences, given the admitted facts and circumstances, more particularly, even with reference to the evidence that has been tendered in the case on hand. Therefore the entire reasoning of the Court below is without any basis and would have to be set at naught and therefore seeks that the appeal be allowed and the accused be acquitted.

4. On the other hand, the learned Government Pleader seeks to justify the judgment of the court below and would vehemently contend that consent is a must to allege that there was consensual sex. The complainant has categorically stated that she had never consented to submit herself to sexual intercourse with the appellant and that the appellant had put her in mortal fear and continued to exploit her for several days. That by itself would not indicate that consent was available. The question whether there was consent or not would turn on the respective claims of the accused – appellant and the complainant. The presumption would be in favour of the say of the complainant and it is this which the Court has accepted and he would contend that there is no hard and fast rule that confinement of the victim over a period of time and forcible sex would imply that there was consent of the victim and hence he would emphasize on this aspect of the matter in seeking to justify the judgment of the court below.

5. In the light of the above contentions and given the admitted sequence of events, the question is whether there was consensual sex between the appellant and the complainant or notwithstanding the long duration, in the course of which, the complainant and the appellant had resided together in a rented house, that it could still be implied that there was no consent of the complainant and whether a finding as to the offences alleged including the offence of rape could be found in favour of the prosecution?

The question as to what would amount to consent has come in for discussion, where the apex court has reviewed the case law at some length, which may be usefully reproduced in this regard.

In the case of Uday vs. State of Karnataka, (2003)4 SCC 46, the facts of that case were that prosecutrix was aged about 19, on the date of the occurrence and the appellant was a man of about 21 years as on the relevant date. The prosecutrix was studying in a college and was residing with her parents, brothers and sisters. The appellant, who was a friend of her elder brother was residing in the neighbourhood. He used to frequently visit her and was well acquainted with the prosecutrix. The friendship had developed and the appellant went to the stage of proposing marriage. The prosecutrix had told him that since they belonged to different castes, such a marriage was not possible, but however, they were in love with each other. It transpires that when she was studying late into the night, the appellant had sneaked up to the window of her room and whispered to her of his love for her and invited her to come out and join him and when she did so, surreptitiously, he took her to a house belonging to the appellant, which was under construction and engaged in petting her and with endearments and promises of marriage, engaged in sexual intercourse. Though she was unwilling to have sexual intercourse, she was persuaded and they did have sex. Thereafter, they had met frequently and had sex more than twenty times, almost once or twice a week. Many people noticed the growing relationship and she had even expressed her deep love for the appellant to others. The relationship did not remain a secret, because she was pregnant and she had to reveal the ongoing relationship to her mother, when she was into the sixth month of her pregnancy. When the appellant was broached with the situation, he had promised to marry her and later had suggested that he would keep her in a place till after her delivery and would marry her after his house, which was under construction, was completed. This was not agreeable to the family of the prosecutrix and there ensued a quarrel between the women folk of the respective families and it is that which provoked a complaint being lodged of the offence of rape against the appellant. The trial court as well as the High Court held that the appellant was guilty of having committed the offence of rape and the matter was before the apex court. The apex court referred to the definition of ‘rape’ contained in Section 375of the IPC, which is also reproduced hereunder for ready reference:-

” 375. Rape.–A man is said to commit “rape” who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions:– First.– Against her will.

Secondly.–Without her consent.

Thirdly.– With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt.

Fourthly.–With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.

Fifthly.– With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.

Sixthly.– With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age.

Explanation –

Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape.

Exception.–Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.].”

Incidentally, the apex Court, while extracting the definition of ‘rape’ under Section 375 of the IPC and Section 90 of the IPC, which provides for consent known to be given under fear or misconception, noted the contention on behalf of the appellant that Section 375 of the IPC was not of much assistance to the prosecution. Section 375 describes six situations, which would constitute ‘rape’ and especially, the third, fourth and fifth circumstances exhaustively enumerated the circumstances, in which the consent given by the prosecutrix is vitiated and does not amount to consent in law and one has to look at Section 375 alone for finding out whether the offence of rape had been committed. The further contention of the Counsel was that even under Section 90IPC, consent was vitiated only if it was given under a misconception of fact. A belief that the promise of marriage was meant to be fulfilled was not a misconception of fact. The question of misconception of fact would arise only if the act consented to was believed by the person consenting to be something else and on that pretext, sexual intercourse is committed. In such cases, it cannot be said that she consented to sexual intercourse.

The illustrations cited were also referred by the apex court in relation to an English case, where a Medical Practitioner had sexual intercourse with a girl, who suffered from a bona fide belief that she was being medically treated or whereunder the pretence of performing a surgery, the surgeon had carnal intercourse with her. The definition of ‘consent’ in Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary (5th Edition), Page 510, is as follows:

“Consent is an act of reason, accompanied with deliberation, the mind weighing, as in a balance, the good and evil on each side.”

The apex court has cited with approval a decision of a division bench of the Calcutta High Court in Jayanti Rani Panda vs. State of West Bengal and Another, 1984 Cri.LJ. 1535, with reference toSection 90 of the IPC, which is to the following effect:-

“The failure to keep the promise at a future uncertain date due to reasons not very clear on the evidence does not always amount to a misconception of fact at the inception of the act itself. In order to come within the meaning of misconception of fact, the fact must have an immediate relevance. The matter would have been different if the consent was obtained by creating a belief that they were already married. In such a case the consent could be said to result from a misconception of fact. But here the fact alleged is a promise to marry we do not know when. If a full grown girl consents to the act of sexual intercourse on a promise of marriage and continues to indulge in such activity until she becomes pregnant it is an act of promiscuity on her part and not an act induced by misconception of fact. S. 90 IPC cannot be called in aid in such a case to pardon the act of the girl and fasten criminal liability on the other, unless the Court can be assured that from the very inception the accused never really intended to marry h er.”

Further, the said decision has been clarified inDeelip Singh vs State of Bihar , (2005)1 SCC 88 and after extracting Para-21 of the judgment in Uday, supra, the Supreme Court has expressed as hereunder:-

“After referring to the case law on the subject, it was observed in Uday, supra at paragraph 21:

’21. It therefore appears that the consensus of judicial opinion is in favour of the view that the consent given by the prosecutrix to sexual intercourse with a person with whom she is deeply in love on a promise that he would marry her on a later date, cannot be said to be given under a misconception of fact. A false promise is not a fact within the meaning Of the code

We are inclined to agree with this view, but we must add that there is no strait jacket formula for determining whether consent given by the prosecutrix to sexual intercourse is voluntary, or whether it is given under a misconception of fact. In the ultimate analysis, the tests laid down by the Courts provide at best guidance to the judicial mind while considering a question of consent, but the Court must, in each case, consider the evidence before it and the surrounding circumstances, before reaching a conclusion, because each case has its own peculiar facts which may have a bearing on the question whether the consent was voluntary, or was given under a misconception of fact. It must also weigh the evidence keeping in view the fact that the burden is on the prosecution to prove each and every ingredient of the offence, absence of consent being one of them.’

28. The first two sentences in the above passage need some explanation. While we reiterate that a promise to marry without anything more will not give rise to ‘misconception of fact’ within the meaning of Section 90, it needs to be clarified that a representation deliberately made by the accused with a view to elicit the assent of the victim without having the intention or inclination to marry her, will vitiate the consent. If on the facts it is established that at the very inception of the making of promise, the accused did not really entertain the intention of marrying her and the promise to marry held out by him was a mere hoax, the consent ostensibly given by the victim will be of no avail to the accused to exculpate him from the ambit of Section 375 Clause secondly. This is what in fact was stressed by the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court in the case of Jayanti Rani Panda, supra which was approvingly referred to in Uday’s case, (supra). The Calcutta High Court rightly qualified the proposition which it stated earlier by adding the qualification at the end (Cri LJ p.1538, para 7)–“unless the Court can be assured that from the very inception, the accused never really intended to marry her”.(emphasis supplied). In the next para, the High Court referred to the vintage decision of the Chancery Court which laid down that a misstatement of the intention of the defendant in doing a particular act would tantamount to a misstatement of fact and an action of deceit can be founded on it. This is also the view taken by the Division Bench of the Madras High Court in Jaladu’s case (ILR (1913) 36 Mad 453). By making the solitary observation that “a false promise is not a fact within the meaningof the code“, it cannot be said that this Court has laid down the law differently. The observations following the aforesaid sentence are also equally important. The Court was cautious enough to add a qualification that no strait jacket formula could be evolved for determining whether the consent was given under a misconception of fact. Reading the judgment in Uday’s case as a whole, we do not understand the Court laying down a broad proposition that a promise to marry could never amount to a misconception of fact. That is not, in our understanding, the ratio of the decision. In fact, there was a specific finding in that case that initially the accused’s intention to marry cannot be ruled out.”

The learned Counsel for the appellant has also relied on a decision in Alamelu and another vs state, (2011) 2 SCC 385. The facts of that case were that PW.2, who was the alleged victim of rape, was the daughter of PW.1 therein, who was a school teacher. The victim had failed in the SSLC examination and therefore was admitted in a private tutorial college. On 31.7.1993 at about 3 p.m., when she was on her way home, from the local bus stop, after attending her tutorial classes, the accused had met her and expressed his love for her and wanted to marry her. The victim did not agree. Thereafter, a car occupied by other accused, namely, accused nos.2,4 and 5, had come up, as apparently pre-arranged and she was forcibly pushed into the car by accused no.1. Accused nos.2,4 and 5, the accomplices of accused no.1, sped away. This incident was informed to the father of the victim by one Sugavanam, who had received a call from accused no.1. The incident was confirmed by another person PW.3, who informed PW.1 about it a little later. Since PW.1 was a handicapped person, he sent his relatives in search of his daughter.

According to the prosecution, the car was taken to the residence of one Selvi, who was the sister of accused no.1 at Pudupatti. Thereafter, the other accused had advised the victim to marry accused no.1, which she refused. At that stage, one of the accused declared that it was not necessary to take the consent of PW.2, the victim, and they could go to a temple in the morning and perform the marriage ceremony. The next morning, at 4 a.m., they took the victim to a temple and accused no.1 had tied a mangalasutra around the neck of the victim, inspite of her resistance. Thereafter, she was kept at another place and was kept in a house and repeatedly raped for three days. On 4.8.1993, she was taken by accused no.1 to Palampatti and as he knew that the parents of the victim were searching for the girl, he took her to Thiruverumbur police station. He told the police that they were husband and wife and had been legally married. In the meanwhile the Sub-Inspector of Police of Vennandur Police Station, on the basis of the complaint, had initiated proceedings. Thereafter, the victim was sent for medical examination. In the report, it was opined that the age of the victim was between 17 to 19. Thereafter, the other accused were arrested and charge-sheeted for the offences punishable under Section 366 and 376  of the IPC. The trial court convicted the accused, which was affirmed by the High Court. However, the apex court held that though the apex court in Rameshwar vs State of Rajsthan, AIR 1952 SC 54, had declared that corroboration was not the sine qua non for a conviction in a rape case and that the said proposition had been reiterated by the apex court in numerous judgments subsequently and that the observations would leave no manner of doubt that a conviction could be recorded on the sole, uncorroborated testimony of a victim, provided it does not suffer from any basic infirmities or improbabilities, which render it unworthy of credence.

In the case on hand, the apex court held that the evidence of PW.2 did not satisfy the aforesaid test and that the High Court had erroneously concluded that the girl had not willingly gone with accused no.1. The conclusion could only be recorded by ignoring the entire evidence with regard to the conduct of the girl from the time of the alleged abduction till the time of the alleged recovery. It was noticed that she did not make any complaint on so many occasions when she had the opportunity to do so and the apex court also noticed that even after the alleged marriage, the girl had continued to be a willing partner in the entire episode. Even if the prosecution version was accepted in its totality it would be established that the girl was staying with accused no.1 from 31.7.1993 till 10.8.1993. The apex court held that if for six days the girl was staying with the accused, without raising any protest, her behaviour would be wholly unnatural.

Therefore, applying the test whether there was consent or not and whether the conduct of the prosecutrix in the present case on hand, would enable the prosecution to hold that it had proved its case beyond all reasonable doubt, cannot be sustained. Hence, on the facts of the case and the state of the law, the prosecution has not made out a case.

Consequently, the appeal is allowed. The judgment of the court below is set aside. The appellant is acquitted. The fine amount, if any, shall be refunded to the appellant. The bail bond executed by the appellant and the surety stand cancelled.

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