The mere fact that the prosecutrix turned hostile is not relevant to efface the evidence with regard to sexual assault

[Case Brief] Hemudan Nanba Gadhvi v/s State of Gujarat – Supreme Court of India

Case  name Hemudan Nanba Gadhvi v/s State of Gujarat
Case number Criminal Appeal No 913 of 2016
Court Supreme Court of India
Bench Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Navin Sinha, Justice KM Joseph
Author of the judgment Justice Navin Sinha
Decided on September 28, 2018
Relevant Act/Sections Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Section 376(2)(f)
Author of the judgment Aditya Gor

Brief Facts and Procedural History:

In the present case, the prosecutrix was aged 9 years when sexual assault was committed on her by an unknown person. Along with prosecutrix, there was PW-3, who was a minor too. PW-3 informed PW-1 (the mother of the prosecutrix) about the incident and PW-1 in-turn lodged an FIR on the same day. In furtherance to the FIR, a medical test was conducted which clearly established the sexual assault signs on the prosecutrix. Test Identification Parade was also carried out by the executive magistrate.

The trial was conducted six months later in which the prosecutrix along with PW-3 denied the sexual assault and also declined the dock identification.  Therefore, the trial court acquitted the appellant. Against this order, an appeal was preferred by the State to the High Court. The High Court, in turn, reversed the order of the trial court and convicted him under Section 376(2)(f) of IPC, sentencing him to ten years of rigorous imprisonment, with a fine of Rupees 5000/-.

Against this order of the High Court, the appeal has been filed before the Supreme Court.

Recordings of Court and Decision Given:

It was observed by the Supreme Court that 6 months was sufficient time and opportunity for the accused to win over the prosecutrix by a settlement through coercion, intimidation and undue influence. The mere fact that the prosecutrix turned out hostile is not relevant and it also does not efface the evidence with regard to the sexual assault upon her and the identification of the appellant as the perpetrator.

The Supreme Court observed that it would be a ‘travesty of justice’ if the appellant were acquitted simply on the basis of prosecutrix turning hostile by giving no consideration to the overwhelming evidence placed.  Hence, the appeal was dismissed.

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