Rajasthan High Court Acquits All Accused in 1989 Rape Case Due to Inconsistent Dying Declarations

Rajasthan High Court acquitted accused in a 1989 rape case due to inconsistent dying declarations in Man Singh S/o Samantaram & Anr. v. State of Rajasthan.

In a recent verdict, the Rajasthan High Court acquitted all the accused in a decades-old rape case from 1989. The court's decision was based on the inconsistency found in the dying declarations provided by the victim. The bench, led by Justice Anoop Kumar Dhand, emphasized that relying on contradictory dying declarations could render a conviction unsafe, citing the precedent set in Bhadragiri Venkata Ravi v. Public Prosecutor High Court of Andhra Pradesh (2013).

The court pointed out that crucial procedures were not followed during the recording of the dying declarations. It was noted that the certificates regarding the victim's medical fitness to provide statements were not obtained from a competent doctor on both occasions. Additionally, the statements were not recorded by or in the presence of a judicial magistrate, thus violating Rule 6.22 of the Rajasthan Police Rules, 1965.

The discrepancies between the victim's two dying declarations were highlighted by the court. Initially, the victim alleged rape on two occasions in her statement recorded on September 12, 1989, at the hospital. However, in a subsequent statement the next day, she claimed the incident was an accidental fire caused while extinguishing a lamp. The court remarked, "Both these dying declarations are contrary to each other."

Drawing from the Bhadragiri Venkata Ravi case, the court stressed that dying declarations should inspire full confidence to be admissible, cautioning against relying on declarations that may be a result of tutoring or imagination.

Justice Dhand emphasized the need to evaluate each dying declaration independently, considering its merits. While variations between declarations exist, the court asserted that the true state of affairs should be ascertained from careful analysis.

The court also raised doubts about the prosecution's version, pointing out inconsistencies in the timeline of events. The delay in taking the victim to the hospital and the absence of a chemical examination report to prove sexual intercourse raised concerns about the credibility of the prosecution's narrative.

The court highlighted the inaction of the victim's father, who delayed reporting the incident to the police and seeking medical treatment for his daughter despite severe burns. Moreover, questions were raised about why the accused, who was reportedly apprehended by villagers, was not handed over to the police immediately.

In its conclusion, the High Court remarked that the evidence did not corroborate the occurrence of rape. Therefore, the conviction for abetment of suicide under Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code could not be sustained. The court referenced the Delhi High Court decision in Ram Swaroop v. State of Delhi (2017) to underscore its decision.