Guilt of rape accused can be established only after examining all witnesses as desired by prosecution: Karnataka HC

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The Karnataka High Court recently set aside the acquittal of person accused of rape upon finding that the trial court had erred in not allowing the prosecution to examine additional witnesses after the victim and her family turned hostile witnesses. (State of Karnataka v. Santhosh)

The case led the High Court to emphasise that the guilt of the accused can be established only after the examination of all the witnesses as desired by the prosecution. In this case, the Bench found that the trial court had erred in not permitting the prosecution to lead necessary evidence to prove the guilt of the accused.

As such, the Division Bench of Justices G Narendar and MI Arun allowed an appeal filed by the State government in the matter, and remanded the matter to the trial court for the continuation of trial.

“The matter stands remanded back to the Trial Court to continue the trial with liberty being given to the prosecution to adduce necessary evidence”, the Court said.

Pertinently, the trial court had acquitted the accused man after the victim and her family turned hostile witnesses and refused to support the prosecution’s case.

The counsel for the accused told the Court that the victim and the accused were now happily married.

On the other hand, the State countered that the accused had only extended a promise of marriage and later abandoned the victim and her child. It was due to this promise of marriage that the victim and her family had turned hostile witnesses, the State asserted. The State added that after the trial court’s acquittal, the accused had abandoned the victim.

By way of background, on April 29, 2019, the victim’s father lodged a complaint against the accused, stating that the accused had committed forcible sexual intercourse with his sixteen-year-old daughter and that his daughter was made to believe that the accused would marry her. The complaint was lodged after the accused allegedly abandoned her.

The victim is also stated to have become pregnant after the incident was seven months pregnant when the complaint was lodged.

While challenging the trial court’s acquittal before the High Court, the State contended that the DNA tests of the victim’s child and the accused were not conducted. The State added that the trial court has erred in not permitting the prosecution to examine other witnesses, including the doctor who had examined the victim.

The High Court, in turn, faulted the prosecution for not making an application before the rial Court to have a DNA test conducted for relating the child with the accused.

“They cannot now turn around and argue that the trial Court committed an error in not permitting the required DNA test,” the Court observed.

All the same, the High Court allowed the appeal after finding that the trial court had erred in not allowing the prosecution to examine all the witnesses in the case.

“It is a specific case of the prosecution that it has necessary evidence to prove the guilt of the accused and it is desirous of making necessary application to have DNA test conducted and that the material witnesses have turned hostile only on the false promise of the accused”, the Court observed.

As such, the Court directed the trial court to continue hearing the matter and granted the prosecution the liberty to adduce necessary evidence in the trial.

Additional Public Prosecutor Vijya Kumar Majage and Advocate Rashmi Jadhav appeared for the State (appellant). Advocate NR Ravikumar appeared for the accused (respondent).

Read Judgment here:

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