The Bombay high court has upheld the conviction of a man under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) for raping a 16-year-old deaf and mute girl in 2018 observing that although the paternity test had come negative, there was sufficient other evidence to nail the offender.
Justice Surendra Tavade of the Aurangabad bench of the HC recently upheld conviction of a man observing: “Though, the DNA report exonerated the appellant, but there is sufficient evidence on record to hold that the appellant had committed rape on victim.”
The HC was hearing an appeal filed by the man challenging the trial court order of January 2020 convicting him under the POCSO Act and sentencing him to 10 years of imprisonment and imposing a fine of Rs 10,000.
According to the prosecution, on June 10, 2018, the victim, then 16-year-old, got married and went to stay with her husband in a neighbouring village. Two days after her marriage, she had stomach pain and it was found that she was pregnant. Her husband sent her back to her parents’ house. She then confided in her mother about the assault by the convict.
The victim’s mother, who is visually challenged, filed a complaint with the police. Medical examination showed that the victim was 24-26 weeks pregnant.
The victim delivered a daughter on October 2, 2018. A DNA test was conducted which showed that the victim was the biological mother. However, the paternity test of the accused came negative.
Defense advocate Chandrakant Patil argued that the man was falsely implicated in the case due to a land dispute with the girl’s family. Patil argued that the prosecution had failed to prove the age of the victim. He also contended that on the basis of a negative report of DNA, the trial court should have exonerated the man.
Additional public prosecutor RP Gaur opposed the appeal stating that although the DNA report was negative with regard to paternity test, the evidence of the victim was sufficient to prove the charge beyond reasonable doubt.
Besides, the accused had failed to show that there was enmity between the families because of which he was being implicated.
Gaur also pointed out that the victim had supported the prosecution and had not changed her statement during the trial. Due to her disability, the trial court recorded her statement with the help of an interpreter who could understand sign language.
She had told the trial court that the accused, her paternal uncle, raped her in an inebriated state in February 2018. She even said that she did not disclose the fact to anyone since he had threatened to kill her.
The HC even dismissed the defense arguments that there was delay in filing of the FIR – the alleged incident is of February 2018, whereas the FIR was filed in June 2018. The HC observed that as soon as the mother learnt about the rape, she lodged a complaint with the police.
Gaur further submitted that the victim did not disclose the incident to her family since her family reputation was at stake.
Dismissing the appeal, the HC noted that in view of the evidence of the victim, her mother and medical evidence, the prosecution had proved the offence and the trial court had rightly convicted the appellant.