dismisses rape case due to delay in filing FIR

SC dismissed a rape case stating that the FIR was filed 34 years post the alleged incident.

Introduction: The matter X v. The State of Assam and Another (Criminal Appeal No. 185 of 2024 arising from SLP(Crl.) No. 9142 of 2022) in the Supreme Court of India’s Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction. The Appellant, challenges the order of the Gauhati High Court dated August 22, 2022, dismissing his application under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, seeking quashing of criminal proceedings under Sections 376/506 of the Indian Penal Code.

Facts of the Case: The case originated from a complaint by the prosecutrix in 2016, accusing the appellant of raping her at the age of 15. A son was born from the relationship in 1983. On December 4, 2016, the prosecutrix lodged an FIR accusing Appellant of raping her when she was fifteen years old. The appellant contested the FIR, claiming it to be an abuse of process and an attempt at blackmail. After the FIR, a final report was filed, rejected by the Magistrate, leading to the Appellant’s petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. in the High Court.

Contention of the Petitioner: The appellant argues that the case is an abuse of process, highlighting the delay of 34 years in filing the FIR and asserting that it was filed for property-related motives. The order of the Magistrate taking cognizance is challenged as unsustainable.

Response of the Respondent: The State and the de facto complainant oppose the appeal, arguing that the delay in filing the FIR is not sufficient grounds for quashing proceedings. They emphasize the prima facie nature of the prosecutrix’s statement and the potential offense under Section 376 IPC.

Court’s Observation: The Investigating Officer’s final report suggests that the case is of a civil nature and filed due to property disputes. The Court observes, “The continuation of the proceedings would lead to nothing else but an abuse of process of law.” The judgment references the caution from State of Haryana and Others v. Bhajan Lal and Others(1992 Supp (1) SCC 335), outlining categories where the power to quash criminal proceedings may be exercised. The Bench noted that while the power to quash criminal proceedings should be used sparingly, in this case, it fell under categories 5 (inherently improbable allegations) and 7 (presence of malafides) as specified in the judgment. It expressed the opinion that the Investigating Officer’s conclusion that the FIR was filed solely due to greed for the appellant’s property was not considered erroneous.

Further the Court observed that ““We find that lodging a case after 34 years and that too on the basis of a bald statement that the prosecutrix was a minor at the time of commission of offence, could itself be a ground to quash the proceedings. No explanation whatsoever is given in the FIR as to why the prosecutrix was keeping silent for a long period of 34 years.”

Court’s Decision: The Supreme Court quashes the High Court’s order and the Magistrate’s order, allowing the appeal. SC citing the absence of a credible explanation for the delay and the apparent motive related to property disputes, the Apex Court quashed the orders of the Magistrate and the High Court.  

-By Adv. Deeksha Rai

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