New Delhi [India]: A Delhi court has acquitted a former student leader of Jawahar Lal University, Delhi from charges of raping his fellow student in the university hostel.
The acquitted accused was the Delhi unit president of the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and a case of rape was registered against him at police Station Vasant Kunj North in 2016 on a complaint filed by a student.
Additional Session Judge Pawan Kumar on July 21 acquitted accused Anmol Ratan of rape and other charges, giving him benefit of doubt and finding the testimony of the prosecutrix without quality and reason.
The Court said in the order of July 21 that on the careful scrutiny of the facts and evidence and in the guiding light of settled legal preposition, this court is of the view that unfortunately the testimony of the prosecutrix failed to meet the test of the sterling quality and the reasons.
While acquitting the accused, the court made some serious observations.
“It is a settled proposition of law that the testimonies of witnesses from different backgrounds cannot be tested on the same yardstick. For example, there cannot be the common yardstick for appreciating the testimony of an uneducated rustic woman and a well-educated girl of
modern outlook, the court said.
The court noted that the prosecutrix is a research scholar of JNU, had contested elections, participated in lots of protests regarding students’ rights, and had written articles and blogs on various issues of national and international importance.
The court said that some direct or circumstantial evidence is required to convict the accused.
“It is correct that the testimony of the prosecutrix can be accepted without any corroboration on the material particulars and the same has been placed on higher pedestal, but when a court, on careful scrutiny of the evidence find it difficult to accept the prosecutrix’s version then there is requirement for some direct or circumstantial evidence which would lend assurance to her testimony,” the court pointed out.
The court further said, “In a criminal trial, the onus remains on the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond all reasonable doubts and benefit of the doubt, if any, must necessarily go in favour of the accused.”
“It is for the prosecution to travel the entire distance from may have to must-have. If the prosecution case appears to be improbable or lacks credibility the benefit of the doubt necessarily has to go to the accused,” the court pointed added.
While acquitting the accused the court also pointed towards the absence of evidence.
“There are no biological traces on the medical exhibits of the accused and the prosecutrix and the exhibits which were collected from the crime scene. The crime scene was not disturbed and the same is proved to be intact,” the court said.
“Moreover, there is no medical evidence to corroborate the testimony of the prosecutrix. No injuries were found mentioned in the MLC which were reported later on by Dr. Puneet Bedi on August 25, 2016. The report of Dr Puneet Bedi is not free from doubts and appears to be an afterthought,” it added.
The court observed, “I agree with the submission of the prosecution that all the details of the prosecution case cannot be put in the FIR. However, there are still some unfilled loopholes in the prosecution version which needs an explanation.”
The prosecutrix stated in the MLC that she took a bath and changed her clothes in the hostel room of her friend. However, two of her friends who were present with the prosecutrix in the room failed to corroborate the above fact.
“No explanation is forthcoming from the prosecution that no police call was made by the prosecutrix in the safe environment with her friends,” the court noted.
The court said that furthermore, the prosecutrix’s deposition is not supported, rather contradicted the material particulars by an independent witness the security guard. He denied the presence of the accused at the gate, who, as stated by the prosecutrix, came there while chasing her.
“There is no explanation as to why the accused left the prosecutrix all alone at the gate and returned back to his room for taking the key. The prosecutrix did not call the police even at the exit gate in the presence of a guard,” the judge pointed out.
There is no explanation as to the fact that no resident heard the accused screaming while he was chasing the prosecutrix, the court observed.
“Suspicion further deepens when the prosecutrix went to the bathroom alone and did not escape from there and returns back to the room of the accused. On this point, the contrary versions of escape have already been discussed in detail.
Further, more doubts arise over the prosecution case that the prosecutrix escaped from the room when the accused went to the bathroom without bolting the room from outside. The prosecutrix did not raise any alarm and sought help from any other resident of the hostel while she was running away from the room,” the judge said further.
The judge also observed that the alleged incident had happened in the hostel room of the accused. The incident is alleged to have happened after midnight and continued till 2:30 am. The JNU student elections were scheduled for September 9. All the parties were about to declare their candidates.
“In the said backdrop, some suspicion arises when the prosecutrix failed to explain as to why she had not raised alarm at the very first opportunity when the accused tried to kiss her. The prosecutrix should have either stop the accused or would have in all probabilities at least
raised alarm,” the judge observed.
The facts of the prosecution case in brief are that the prosecutrix and the accused were pursuing higher studies at JNU and they were residents of different hostels of JNU.
“On June 20, 2016, the prosecutrix posted a public post on her Facebook page that she wanted a copy of the film ‘Sairat’. The accused replied and informed that he had a copy of the film. On 17.08.2016, the prosecutrix sent a message to the accused and asked him whether she can collect the movie, the prosecution said.
“The accused and the prosecutrix decided to meet at the hostel room of the accused and the accused picked her up on his motorcycle on August 20, 2016, at 10:30 pm,” it was alleged.
“It was further said that they went to the room of the accused at Brahmaputra Extension Hostel. The prosecutrix consumed two pegs of whiskey being offered by the accused and they had a casual conversation regarding JNU and student politics.
After the casual conversation, the accused forcefully took off her clothes and raped her,” it was alleged.
Despite resistance, the prosecutrix could not stop the accused. The accused did not allow the prosecutrix to wear her clothes. After committing rape, the accused called one of his seniors in the students’ wing and asked her to meet the prosecutrix and support her and told her that the prosecutrix wanted to contest the JNU Students Union elections, it was alleged.
As per the prosecutrix, the accused claimed to love her and threatened to kill everyone who would come close to her. The prosecutrix was forced to wear his T-shirt by the accused when she asked to go to the bathroom. The prosecutrix managed to run away from there when the accused went to the bathroom.
The accused chased the prosecutrix and caught her at the hostel gate in the presence of the guard and tried to snatch her phone when she was making phone calls to seek help.
The prosecutrix escaped from there with the help of one of her acquaintances and reached a hostel and met her close friends, she stated.
Thereafter, the prosecutrix went to the police station and gave written information, whereupon, the present FIR was registered and an investigation was conducted.
At the conclusion of the investigation, a charge sheet was filed against the accused for the commission of an offence punishable under Section 376 IPC.
On considering the charge sheet and the material available on record, a prima facie case was made out against the accused and on October 17, 2016 charge was framed against him for the commission of offences punishable under Section 376 and 506 IPC.
Advocate Rajiv Mohan along with advocate Nitika Pancholi appeared for accused. He argued that Advocate Rajiv Mohan appeared for the accused. He argued that the perusal of the communication between the accused and the prosecutrix prior to the meeting on the day of the incident transpired that it was the prosecutrix who suggested the time and the place of the meeting.
The prosecutrix shared her phone number with the accused and she herself proposed to meet the accused post dinner at his hostel room.
It was also argued that There is a delay of approximately six hours in lodging the FIR. The prosecutrix had not made any PCR call after she escaped from the hostel at about 2:30 am despite that she was using her mobile phone.
The prosecutrix did not ask the security guard at the gate of the hostel for help. The prosecutrix did not even call her brother, who was also the student and resident of JNU, after the incident.
The prosecutrix did not disclose anything to the security guard of the hostel to whom she met after the incident and made no effort to take help from police authority with the assistance of the guard, argued the counsel.