The Court observed that if a naïve law student faces such horrendous acts in the office of an advocate, it would have a chilling effect on the entire profession.
The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday refused to quash a criminal complaint against a lawyer accused of raping one of his interns.
[Rajesh KSN v State of Karnataka and Anr]
Justice M Nsgaprasanna observed that any interference by the Court would render plaudits to the wanton lust and vicious appetite of the petitioner (accused lawyer)
If a naïve student of law, enters the office of an Advocate, as an intern; in turn gets to face these horrendous acts, it would have a chilling effect on the entire practice and profession,” the court added.
The Court was hearing a petition by the lawyer to quash certain charges against him.
According to the complaint, the law student joined the petitioner’s office as an intern in August 2021. One evening, when the two were the only people present in the office, the lawyer allegedly called the student to his cabin and attempted to rape her.
The complainant-student also claimed that she had recorder a call in which the petitioner admitted to the rape attempt.
Accordingly, a complaint was registered for rape and allied offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The petitioner admitted his guilt under Section 354 A (sexual harassment), 354B (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 354 (voyeurism) and 354D (punishment for stalking) of the IPC but contended that there was no prima facie evidence for the rest of the charges.
He argued that the chargesheet did not indicate the commission of rape and that even the complaint did not indicate it.
He also underscored that the complainant had, during her medical examination, informed the doctor that there was no sexual intercourse/
Section 376(2) (f) imposes punishment on a person who, in the capacity of a relative, guardian, teacher, or someone in a position of trust of authority towards a woman, commits rape against her.
Similarly, section 376(2) (k) penalizes an individual who, through a position of control or dominance over a woman, commits rape against her.
Furthermore, Section 376C (a) establishes the liability of a person for rape if they engage in such an act while holding a position of authority or being in fiduciary relationship.
The Court observed that the petitioner fulfilled all of these roles as he held the positions of a teacher and a person in a position of trust. Additionally, he was in a position of control or dominance over the complainant and held a position of authority.
On the contention that there was only an attempt to rape and no commission as such, the Court observed that this was a disputed question of a fact and would require a trial.
The Court further observed that the complainant’s statement to the doctor was an extra-judicial one and whether or not rape was committed was a matter of evidence.
The Court also pointed out that it could not delve deep into the facts in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Section 482 (saving of inherent powers of the High Court) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
The judge went on to note that the trial court was yet to frame charges and there was no reason to believe that it would not apply its mind.
Accordingly, the Court determined that its interference was not warranted, and dismissed the plea.
The State was represented by High Court Government Pleader (HCGP) KP Yashodha.
The complaint was represented by Advocate Sophia.
Source: Bar & Bench