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  • The High Court of Delhi held that a statement given by the victim under Section 164 CrPC disclosing the offence of rape shall be sufficient ground to frame charges against the accused under Section 376 IPC.
  • Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma noted that the accused may not be discharged in a rape case merely because the prosecutrix had not stated about the same in FIR or while filing a medical-legal case.
  • In rape cases, majorly victims are the witness and the statement of the victim must be viewed from a considerate and liberal perspective while framing charges, the court said.
  • The courts must give careful consideration to the aftermath of an incident involving sexual violence.
  • The physical and emotional turmoil that a victim faces is appalling which makes it difficult for them to take immediate action against the assailant or endure the trauma further in the investigation by police or an intrusive medical examination. Thus the accused shall not be discharged off Section 376 merely because the incident of rape was not stated in FIR or during MLC.
  • The court said that an overzealous approach to appreciating details of evidence and concluding the case before even it began would be “fatal to the justice and faith of the victim in the criminal justice system."
  • There may be instances where MLC would be unable to disclose the actual incident, so the court rather than appreciating the evidence should start assessing it at the stage of framing charges itself.
  • The trial courts are bound to frame charges where there is a prima facie case to show that an offence has been committed.
  • The court while hearing a revision petition filed by Delhi Police against a trial court order noted that the accused charged under Sections 323, 354, 354B, 458, 509, and 34 of IPC by the trial court in 2016 was discharged for rape under Section 376.
  • In March 2016, the accused had unlawfully broken into the house of a five-month-pregnant woman and assaulted her with the intent to outrage her modesty.
  • The victim intimated the police and subsequently, she was taken to the police station to register an FIR.
  • The next day, the victim complained of stomach ache and genital bleeding and was taken for a medical examination. 
  • The victim handed over a torn piece of kurta to the Investigating officer.
  • In April 2016, the magistrate recorded the victim’s statement under Section 164 of CrPC where she had disclosed that one of the accused inserted his finger in her genitals. This statement led to the attribution of Section 376 IPC.
  • The trial court in October 2016 discharged the accused under Section 376 IPC.
  • Justice Sharma said that the trial court at the stage of framing charge had marshaled the evidence and found contradictions in the same.
  • The trial court order was set aside to the extent of discharging the accused under Section 376 IPC and the court additionally framed charges under the offence of rape against them.
  • FIR, MLC, and statement of the victim were considered during trial for framing charges, and Justice Sharma noted that it was erroneous to discharge the accused by giving undue weightage to the discrepancy in the statements of the prosecutrix.
  • The prosecutrix had only mentioned the offence for the first time while giving her statement to the magistrate under Section 164 CrPC stating that the accused inserted a finger in her genitals and hit her stomach despite her statement about the pregnancy.
  • The Trial Court observed that the MLC does not mention any sexual assault but only physical assault.
  • It was further observed that the charge under rape could be solely framed only based on the statement made by the victim under Section 164 CrPC even when the allegation was not made in FIR or under the Section 161 statement.
  • Allowing the plea of the prosecution, the court remarked that the observations are only for deciding the State’s plea and it shall not have any effect on the merits of the case during trial.
     
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