The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in its judgement dated 27.07.2020 emphasised on the importance of the right of the accused to offer an explanation under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, terming it to be valuable in seeking justice. The Apex Court further held that the failure of courts to consider the defence could be prejudicial to the process of rendering justice and could endanger conviction itself.
The present judgement was pronounced in response to a criminal appeal filed by one Parminde Kaur impugning the judgement dated 30.11.2009 passed by the Hon’ble High Court of Punjab and Haryana wherein her challenge to the judgement dated 27.02.1999 passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Barnala was turned down, thereby confirming her conviction of three years rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs.2,000/- (Rupees Two Thousand Only) under Section 366A and 506 of the Indian Penal Code 1860.
As per the FIR registered, the appellant was accused of trying to entice a minor girl into indulging in illicit intercourse with a young man who was said to be the appellant’s tenant. Subsequently, she is alleged to have also threatened the Prosecutrix against informing the police of this incident.
The Appellant, in turn denied all allegations and presented her own version of the incidence in her statement under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, claiming that there was no tenant at all at her house and that the complaint was nothing but motivated revenge at the instance of one Bhola Singh against whom she had levelled allegations of rape.
The version presented by the Appellant was rejected by the trial court which in turn held that the Appellant had intentionally induced the Prosecutrix to perform illicit intercourse with her male tenant, and that she had also criminally intimidated the Prosecutrix by threatening her family member.
The trial court convicted the Appellant to three years of rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs.2,000/- (Rupees Two Thousand Only) under Section 366A of the Indian Penal Code 1860 along with one year of rigorous imprisonment with a Rs. 1,000/- (Rupees One Thousand Only) fine under Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code 1860. This conviction was affirmed by the High Court bringing the Appellant to the Supreme Court in the present appeal.
Looking into the merits of the case, Justice Surya Kant held that the impugned orders passed by the Courts failed to delve deep into the factual matrix of the matter, completely ignoring several aspects.
It was also held that the reasoning provided by the Trial Court was generic in nature and was premised upon generalisations that may not always be true.
The Hon’ble Apex Court proceeded by raising serious doubts over the fact that the Prosecutrix father would wait for 5 days before registering an FIR. The Hon’ble apex court also raised doubts as to how could the father along with two other men failed to stop the tenant boy who was allegedly about commit a sexual offence with the victim.
In addition to finding the investigation and prosecution’s case to be shoddy, the Supreme Court also noted that the analysis of the Trial Court in supporting the conviction was superficial.
Moreover, the non-satisfactory way in which the testimony of the Appellant under Section 313, Criminal Procedure Code 1973 was dealt with by the lower courts was also disapproved of by the Supreme Court which stated as follows, “…the alternate version given by the appellant could not be lightly brushed aside. Her two-part defence, put succinctly, was that first there was no male tenant at all and no one except for her child and mother lived with her, and second, that she was being falsely implicated as vengeance for filing a rape complaint against one Bhola Singh with whom the prosecutrix’s father used to work… the trial Court’s analysis of the appellant’s Section 313 defence ought to have been deeper, before concluding it as being false or untrustworthy.”
Therefore, the Court concluded that the prosecution failed to discharge its duty of proving the guilt of the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt. As such, the appeal was allowed and the conviction of the appellant was set aside.
“The appellant is acquitted and set free”, the Court held.