High Court upholds conviction of rape accused, Small Phawa

Shillong, Apr 2: The Meghalaya High Court has dismissed an appeal filed by one Small Phawa who was convicted in 2016 for raping a 14-year-old girl eight years ago, and upheld the judgment passed by the Court of Session Judge, West Jaiñtia Hills District.

In its judgment passed on Tuesday, the division bench which comprised of Chief Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice HS Thangkhiew upheld the judgment passed by the Court of Session Judge, West Jaiñtia Hills District on September 27, 2016.

The Court of Session Judge had convicted Small Phawa to 10 years rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs 5,000 for his involvement in raping the minor girl at Jowai way back in 2011.

The bench said that the Trial Court on proper appreciation of evidence has rightly convicted Phawa (appellant) and sentenced him, however in default of fine of Rs 5000, imprisonment of one year is excessive therefore not reasonable.

“Appeal is found to be devoid of merit. The judgment impugned pursuant to which accused has been convicted and order impugned, pursuant to which accused has been sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment of 10 years with fine of Rs.5000/- and in default of payment of fine to undergo one year simple imprisonment with slight modification i.e. in default of fine to undergo instead of “one year”, one month of simple imprisonment, is upheld.

Appeal accordingly dismissed,” the bench stated in its judgment.

It has also stated the inescapable conclusion is that the victim girl has been fully proved to have been minor on the date of occurrence. It is also proved that the accused had taken her in his car and then sexually assaulted her.

“Right of proper trial and fair trial by no means has been offended. Therefore, there is no scope to interfere with the judgment impugned,” it said.

During examination under section 313 CrPC, Phawa could state that it is a case of vengeance instead he has simply stated that the family of the victim tried to defame him but in the process has also divulged while answering to Question No.5 as put to him during examination under Section 313 CrPC, that he has made a press statement that the girl went willingly with him.

Even the five defence witnesses as produced by the accused have nowhere stated that the victim girl wanted to marry the accused or for that matter the accused had any affair with the victim.

The contention is totally without any foundation simply an afterthought, unacceptable in absence of any proof having been produced before the Trial Court during trial. This contention is without any merit as such, rejected, the bench said.

The counsel for the appellant tried to project indirectly that the victim girl had accompanied the accused out of her own will. However, the bench said this contention of the counsel for the appellant is not worth to be accepted. “Even if accepted still insignificant because her consent was immaterial. She is proved to be a minor therefore accused cannot be absolved from criminal liability of rape,” it stated.