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Court sets aside acquittal of rape accused

By Our Staff Reporter

CHENNAI DEC. 25. The Madras High Court has rapped a subordinate judicial officer for acquitting a rape accused "on flimsy grounds" and for making "unwarranted comment" on the High Court. Besides setting aside the acquittal order, it remanded the rape case back to the lower court for fresh trial.

The order, passed by Justice A. Packiaraj, pertained to the rape of an 11-year-old student by her mathematics teacher in 1990. However, the crime was registered only under Section 354 of IPC (outraging the modesty). Only after a direction from the Madras High Court did the Kuzhithurai police register the case under Section 376 (rape).

However, the then Assistant Sessions judge commented upon the High Court direction and said, "Conspiracy has been hatched to get the order."

Making it clear that the High Court passed orders only after being "fully satisfied and having heard the other side as well," Mr. Justice Packiaraj said, "It is too much for an Assistant Sessions Judge to comment upon the orders passed by the High Court."

Pointing out that the subordinate judge acquitted the rape accused citing certain contradictory statements of the accused and a prosecution witness, the judge said the occurrence took place in 1990, and the evidence was recorded only in 2001. "In such cases, there are bound to be certain contradictions." He faulted the investigating officer for not being diligent enough in his investigation, "probably with a view to help the accused." The prosecutor also did not escape strictures. Mr. Justice Packiaraj cited a medical report, which said that no definite opinion could be given regarding the rape, and said the prosecutor failed to elicit any explanation from the victim.

He then set aside the order of acquittal and remanded the case back to the Kuzhithurai court for fresh trial.

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