[Rape cases] DNA test has ability to exonerate wrongly convicted and to identify guilty: Bombay High Court

In the present case, the Court besides the girl's testimony, also found the scientific evidence in the form of DNA reports credible and establishing the guilt of the appellant.
Nagpur Bench, Bombay High Court
Nagpur Bench, Bombay High Court

The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday upheld the life sentence of a 55-year-old man, who raped a minor girl and impregnated her and later abandoned her at a hospital when she was in labour [Harishchandra Sitaram Khanorkar vs State of Maharashtra].

Besides the girl's testimony, the bench also found the scientific evidence in the form of DNA reports credible and establishing the guilt of the appellant.

In this regard, a division bench of Justices Rohit Deo and Urmila Joshi-Phalke said that DNA testing has the capability to not only exonerate the wrongly convicted but also to identify the guilty.

"The DNA testing has an unparalleled ability both to exonerate the wrongly convicted and to identify the guilty. It has the potential to significantly improve both the criminal justice system and police investigative practices," the Court said.

The Court rejected the contention of the convict that he had given shelter to the victim, looked after her and even got her admitted to a good school after her father died and mother had entered into a second marriage.

"The trust of the victim is betrayed by the accused. The accused was under moral obligation to protect the child in the background that he was having his own daughter but he destroyed her future life. He had destroyed her physical body and degraded the very soul of helpless girl. He has violated her privacy and personal integrity and also caused serious psychological as well as physical harm to her," the bench observed in the order.

It further said that rape is not merely physical assault but it often destructs the whole personality of the victim, and therefore, matters of such allegation must be dealt with utmost sensitivity.

The appellant was arrested after the victim's mother lodged a complaint against him on December 2, 2013 alleging that he had raped her minor daughter on several occasions and impregnated her. The mother claimed that the victim in question was her daughter from her first marriage.

However, after her husband died, she performed a second marriage and left the victim at the appellant's house.

The appellant, the victim alleged had raped her first time when she was in class 9 and it happened repeatedly. This came to light when she told her mother about the continuous abdominal pain, which on medical examination was found to be a seven-month pregnancy.

When the girl was to deliver a child and was in labour pain, the appellant had rushed her to a hospital in an inebriated condition and left her while she was in agony.

The trial court convicted him for rape under Section 376 of Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to life imprisonment along with fine of ₹25,000.

The convict then moved the High Court by way of the present appeal challenging the same.

The High Court held that the evidence of the victim was trustworthy and nailed the appellant.

"Children are the greatest gift of humanity and the sexual assault on children is the most heinous crime," the bench observed.

Besides the girl's testimony, the bench also found the DNA reports credible.

Speaking about the sentencing in such cases, the bench underscored that a civil society has a ‘fundamental’ and ‘human’ right to live free from any kind of fear, threat, danger or insecurity at the hands of anti-social elements and that the society legitimately expects courts to apply doctrine of proportionality and impose suitable and deterrent punishment that commensurate with the gravity of the offence.

With these observations, the bench dismissed the appeal.

Advocates AS Dhore, Sheikh Sohailuddin and Yash Bangale appeared for the Appellant.

Additional Public Prosecutor MJ Khan represented the State.

[Read Judgment]

Harishchandra Sitaram Khanorkar vs State of Maharashtra.pdf
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