State of H.P. Vs.
Prem Singh  INSC 1931 (11 November 2008)
V. PREM SINGH
(Criminal Appeal No. 44 of 2002) NOVEMBER 11, 2008 [DR. ARIJIT PASAYAT AND DR.
MUKUNDAKAM SHARMA, JJ.] The Judgment of the Court was delivered by DR. ARIJIT
learned counsel for the appellant- State and learned counsel for the respondent
(hereinafter referred as to as the `accused').
the allegation that the respondent had sexually ravished PW- 1 and had outraged
the modesty of not only P W- 1, but of several other girl students of the
school where the respondent was a teacher, law was set in motion. The
respondent was further charged for commission of offences relating to
threatening the prosecutrix with dire consequences in case she disclosed the
incident to somebody else. The accused faced trial for offences punishable
under Sections 37 6 , 35 4 and 50 6 of the Indian Pen al Code, 18 6 0 (in short
'the I PC').
learned Addl. Sessions Judge, Mandi, Himachal Pradesh found the accused guilty
of all the offences, sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for ten
years', six months' and six months' respectively. In appeal, the High Court set
aside the judgment of conviction and sentence and directed acquittal of the
support of the appeal, learned counsel for the appellant- State submitted that
the reasons indicated by the High Court are indefensible. The High Court has
treated delay in lodging the FIR in a case involving rape, to be similar to
that involving other offences.
Additionally, it was
submitted that the evidence of P W- 1, the prosecutrix has been lightly brushed
response, learned counsel for the respondent- accused submitted that not only
there was inordinate delay in lodging the FIR, but also, the fact that the
prosecutrix claimed to have told her mother and a teacher about the alleged
incident at the first instance and, thereafter, there was total silence of
nearly two years, casts doubt on the authenticity of the prosecution version.
In any event, it is submitted, that the offence punishable under Section 3 7 6
I PC is not made out.
far as the delay in lodging the FIR question is concerned, the delay in a case
of sexual assault, cannot be equated with the case involving other offences.
There are several factors which weigh in the mind of the prosecutrix and her
family members before coming to the police station to lodge a complaint. In a
tradition bound society prevalent in India, more particularly, rural areas, it
would be quite unsafe to throw out the prosecution case merely on the ground
that there is some delay in lodging the FI R . In that score, learned counsel
for the appellant is right that the High Court has lost sight of this vital distinction.
Additionally, we find that the prosecution has clearly established commission
of offence punishable under Sections 35 4 and 5 0 6 I PC. So far as the offence
punishable under Section 3 7 6 I PC is concerned, the basic ingredients are set
out in Section 37 5 I PC. On a reading of the evidence of the prosecutrix, we
find that a case of rape has not been established so far as the respondent is
being the position, we allow the appeal of the State to the extent that the
respondent is convicted for offences punishable under Sections 3 5 4 and 5 0 6
I PC. The sentences are two years' and six months' rigorous imprison ment
respectively. It is stated that the appellant has suffered more than that
period of custody. If that being so, he need not surrender to custody,. The
appeal is allowed to the aforesaid extent.