The Gujarat High Court on Friday, 14th July 2023 ordered the State government to constitute a committee to identify cases, especially rape cases, wherein the trial courts have convicted accused persons based on weak evidence which does not inspire confidence, and yet the convicts continue to languish in jail. [ Govindbhai Velsibhai @ Virjibhai Parmar vs State of Gujarat].
A division bench of Justices AS Suphehia and MR Mengdey while dealing with a criminal appeal filed by one Govindbhai Parmar, convicted for rape and robbery, noted that the evidence in the case was weak and did not inspire confidence.
The bench further noted that despite there being very weak evidence, the appellant before them – Parmar – had already spent more than 13 years in jail.
“We would like to highlight those cases, such as the present one in which the convicts are convicted on the basis of inappropriate appreciation of evidence or the conviction is premised on such evidence which does not inspire any confidence or created doubt, and the convicts have to undergo incarnation for a long period. In the present case, the convict has undergone 13 years and 01 month and 16 days of the sentence,” the Court highlighted.
It further took into account the fact that another convict Virabhai Parmar had also undergone 12 years and 9 months of jail term.
“Such cases as the present one which is pending before the High Court need to be identified so that the conviction can be set aside at the earliest even if the sentence of the convicts is suspended. We request the State Government to do the needful in this regard by forming a Committee,” the bench ordered.
Though we are not suggesting that the State may admit that the conviction is not proper, however, the State may suggest that such appeals be heard on a priority basis, the bench said.
By way of background, a sessions court in Amreli had convicted four persons for rape, robbery, and the relevant provisions of the stringent Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act on August 18, 2011.
The prosecution case was that on February 2, 2009, the four men forcibly barged into the hut of the victim and assaulted her husband, and later tied him to the cot.
Further, the accused took the victim to an open field near her house and raped her one by one. They later brought her back to her house and tied her to the cot and fled the spot along with the victim couple’s money and a phone.
The incident took place at 1:30 am in the night and the victim informed her husband about the same at 8:00 am in the morning.
The bench noted that medical evidence indicated the presence of blood samples on the victim’s clothes but the victim in her testimony had clearly stated that she had washed her clothes soon after the incident.
Further, the medical evidence also did not point to any injuries to her private parts.
“We may reiterate that the medical evidence does not in any manner indicate the commission of aggravated sexual assault. The medical evidence does not in any manner suggest that the prosecutrix is raped by four accused by six times. Such a gravity of forceful sexual intercourse will leave exacerbating injuries and could have definitely heavily traumatized the victim. The demeanor of the victim does not indicate that she had undergone such a high degree of sexual assault and ordeal,” the bench observed.
Advocates FB Brahmbhatt and Hardik Raval appeared for the Appellants.
Additional Public Prosecutor Krina Calla represented the State.