Bengaluru: The High Court of Karnataka has ruled that only when there is documentary evidence on age provided by a school or municipal authority,, the question of a medical officer’s opinion on the age proof does not arise.
The court has, therefore, set aside the acquittal of a person by a Sessions Court that sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment for rape and four years for house trespass and three years for criminal intimidation.
The lower court had earlier held that the victim was a major and it was consensual sex between the two, based on a radiologist’s report that the girl may be aged between 16 and 18.
“It is only in the absence of the matriculation or equivalent certificate certificates or the date of birth certificate from the school or a birth certificate given by a Corporation or a Municipal authority or a panchayat, the medical opinion will be sought from a duty constituted Medical Board, which will declare the age of the juvenile or the child,” the Division Bench of Justice HB Prabhakara Sastry and Justice Anil B Katti said in a recent judgment.
The acquittal was challenged by the police in the High Court.
The accused, married and having two children, raped a minor girl in the village. The victim became pregnant and her pregnancy was terminated by a doctor. Her parents convened a panchayat where the parents of the accused promised to get the accused and the victim married. It was written in a document that the two were in love and would marry each other.
But, the accused never married the girl and a complaint alleging rape was filed. It was in this case that the Sessions Court acquitted him, assuming it was consensual sex.
The High Court held a different opinion. It said, “In the instant case, since the certificate issued by the school, which is based on the records maintained by it and placed by the prosecution, the medical opinion, which, in turn, was based on a radiologist’s report and admittedly, when the said radiologist also was not examined, cannot be relied upon, as such, the age of the victim girl has to be necessarily held as 15 years 4 months as in the month of December 2011.” The High Court said the lower court had erred.
“The learned Sessions Judge’s Court adopted its own methodology of calculating the age of the victim girl, based upon statements made by her mother about the length of her married life and also birth of the victim girl during the same period. When there was sufficient evidence, both oral and documentary, to determine the age of the victim girl, such an exercise by the Sessions Judge’s Court of finding out a new method of calculating the age of the victim girl based on the mother’s married life was uncalled for,” the High Court said in its judgement.
Also, the court pointed to the fact that the sexual act was not denied by the accused. “Further, it can be seen that the accused has not categorically denied or disputed his act of sexual intercourse with the girl. On the other hand, it is his contention that such an act was a consensual act.” Since the evidence of the victim alone was enough in such cases, the allegation of rape had to be proved.
The High Court dismissed also the evidence of the agreement in the Panchayat which said it was a love affair.