High Court sets aside sentence awarded to rape convict

Shillong, Sept 13: The Meghalaya High Court on Thursday set aside an order of the fast track court in Nongstoiñ, West Khasi Hills district that sentenced a rape convict to 5 years rigorous imprisonment.

Passing its order, the division bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice SR Sen at the same time, directed the state government to ensure that the Directorate of Prosecution is established at the earliest

“The Director General of Police, Meghalaya, Shillong is directed to take up the matter with the Government so that the directorate of prosecution will be established as early as possible and accountability can be fixed,” the Court said.

Setting aside an order passed by the Fast Track Court, Nongstoiñ, West Khasi Hills District on July 25, 2014, the Court ordered that the rape convict, Johny Nongtnger of Trihsaw Village should be set free with immediate effect. He was accused of raping a minor girl.

The fast track court had passed a sentence of 5 years rigorous imprisonment under Section 376 IPC as well as a fine of Rs. 10,000, and in default thereof, will undergo 1 year rigorous imprisonment.

After thorough scanning of evidences on record, and Material Exhibits, the Court said, “We do not find sufficient materials to agree with the impugned judgment and order dated 25.07.2014 passed by the learned Fast Track Court Nongstoiñ, West Khasi Hills District, Meghalaya in G.R. Case No. 110 of 2007.”

On scanning the evidence also, the Court said, nothing came concrete to finger point that it was the convict who committed rape and assaulted the victim.

“So on careful analyzes of the evidence as discussed above and after applying our conscious judicial mind, we are really confused whether there was any rape or assault upon the victim,” it said.

From the evidence of PW-14, it also appears that the victim was admitted to Ganesh Das Hospital, Shillong on 19.12.2007, whereas the doctor of the said hospital stated that the victim was produced for examination on 22.10.2008.

Besides that, on examination, no sign of rape could be detected and the injuries were found to be old in nature.

“We could not understand in such a serious case how the prosecution and the I/O could be so negligent in conducting a case and muddle up the entire evidence,” the bench said adding “It also appears to us that the evidence given by the prosecution witness was not certain as to what they are stating in their statements.”

Stating that it is a settled principle of law that a rape victim needs to be examined immediately so as to detect the exact outcome, it said, “But here the prosecution failed miserably. We find that the entire case is mishmash.”

The bench further said it is also a settled principle of law that each and every case which depends upon circumstantial evidence, it is the duty of the prosecution to prove each and every circumstance beyond doubt, which will finger point to the accused only and none else

“Lastly, we also note that while passing any judgment, the Court should not be led by motion or heart, but should be led by law and evidence. Accordingly, the impugned judgment and order dated 25.07.2014 passed by the learned Fast Track Court Nongstoiñ, West Khasi Hills District, is hereby set aside,” the bench said in its judgment.

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