Sunday, March 17, 2019

HC acquits married man of rape charge and Strikes Down Jail Term

The Gujarat high court has acquitted a married person from rape charges and struck down his 15-year jail term earlier awarded to him by a lower court for allegedly raping a minor.

The HC quashed the trial court’s conviction order and ordered to release Rajkot’s Narendrapari Goswami as the high court believed that it was a love affair between him and the girl and hence there was no element of force involved. The HC also did not consider the sexual relations with the girl as statutory rape because the prosecution could not prove that she was a minor by supplying only a school leaving certificate without examining any witness in support of the certificate.

Goswami, was booked under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act as well as for rape. He was sentenced to 15-year imprisonment in 2017 by a special court in Rajkot. His conviction took place after his ex-girlfriend lodged an FIR against him in 2013.

After hearing the appeal, the HC said that the girl was living with Goswami for five months. Even after she came to know that Goswami was married and had two kids, she maintained relations with him. “It is clear that there was love affair between the victim and Goswami… the victim had sexual relation with the accused with her consent. Therefore, as such, no offence is made out against the appellant,” the HC said.

The HC refused to accept that the victim was a minor at the time of incident. It said that mere producing the school leaving certificate without examining concerned witnesses, it cannot be said that the age mentioned in the certificate is established.

“Even otherwise, the school leaving certificate to prove the age of the victim is not of much evidentiary value. The prosecution has failed to place on record the birth certificate of the victim,” the court said and added that the date of birth mentioned in the school register of secondary school certificate has no probative value within Section 35 of the Indian Evidence Act, if the person who gave the information to the school does not give evidence.

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