A 28-year-old man from Mumbai has been freed by Bombay High Court after being imprisoned for more than six-years on charges of allegedly raping a six-year-old girl in 2014.
The high court on Monday concluded that since the DNA of the semen collected from the girl’s dress did not match with the blood sample taken from the man, the conviction could not be upheld. The court also observed that the child’s contradictory testimony could not be the sole reason to sentence the man for life.
On August 21, 2014, a six-year-old girl child was sleeping on the pavement with her mother, a destitute, outside a temple in Kandivali, (West). For around four hours between 2 to 6 in the morning, the child disappeared. Her parents then went searching for her, and later her mother found her nearby, abused with a broom.
The mother of the child blamed this particular man stating that he had ill-intentions towards her and her daughter, after which the cops arrested him.
The accused was arrested in connection with the crime, primarily on the suspicion of the survivor’s mother, who claimed he was following them for a few days before the incident and had also tried to initiate a dialogue with her.
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The accused was tried for the heinous crime. The prosecution examined 11 witnesses and relied on 30 documents to bring home his guilt. A special court under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, accepted the prosecution evidence and convicted the man for the crime, primarily based on the survivor’s testimony, and had sentenced him to life imprisonment.
However, on December 14, 2020, a bench of Justices Makarand Karnik and S S Shinde annulled the February 5, 2019 conviction. Justice Karnik wrote for the bench,
We find it unsafe to convict the accused only on the basis of the testimony of the victim without there being further corroboration to her testimony showing the complicity of the accused.
The high court stated that the special judge had misjudged the matter, while the accused’s Advocate Tanveer Khan argued that the possibility of false implication could not be ruled out. However, Prosecutor F R Shaikh said that the evidence on record showed beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused was responsible for the offence.
Bombay High Court
The judges noted that the girl’s testimony about the identity of the accused emerged to be frequently changing. Even though the child identified the accused as her father’s friend, she also claimed to have never seen him before the incident. Moreover, she also contradicted that the accused used to come to meet her father and also that she knew him well.
Besides, her mother had also revealed his name to police as “Anand” and this, the court said, adds to serious doubt about his identity.
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The court overlooked that the child could have been tutored by her mother about her statements, as the girl
had been staying at an ashram since the incident. However, the court also noted that the child’s statement was recorded on November 26, 2019, and that it is “improbable” that her mother would not have met her for all these years.
The judges also reviewed the forensic evidence which revealed that the DNA profile of semen on the girl’s frock and blood sample of the appellant was not from the same paternal progeny. The court remarked,
The trial court stated that the evidence of the victim, the injury report and the medical officer proved that the atrocious act was committed by the accused.
The evidence of the victim, the medical evidence firmly establishes the brutality of the assault, but the forensic reports do not support the case that the appellant is the perpetrator…it is therefore not possible to uphold the conviction.
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