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Criminal Law : Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 : Sections 227, 228 and 219. Accused-Discharge of or framing of charges against-Tests to determine-Held : Court had to sift evidence on record only for the limited purpose of finding out whether a prima facie case was made out against the ac-cused-At that stage Court was not required to sift the evidence for arriving at the conclusion that it would not lead to conviction-In the circumstances of the case, the High Court erred in seeking independent corroboration to the version of the complainants in discharging the accused-Case remitted to trial court to proceed further in accordance with law-Trial Court was further directed to consider afresh whether the charge was required to be altered or amended so as to make it consistent with S. 219. Penal Code, 1860 : Section 376. Accused-Complaint against-For committing rape on 3 girls at different times-High Court discharged accused on grounds that he was a saintly old man who had thousands/millions of disciples all over India and that there was delay on the part of the rape victims in disclosing those illegal acts to their parents and police-Held : High Court erred in discharging the accused merely on such grounds-Rape victims, while making complaint to the police, were not required to give detailed explanations. Section 376-External injuries-Absence of-On the person of the prosecutrix- Held : Version of the prosecutrix could not be described as false on such a ground. The accused, a spiritual teacher, was charged under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 for committing rape on 3 girls at different times. The application for discharge of the accused was dismissed. But the High Court discharged the accused on the grounds that the accused was a saintly old man, who had renounced the world, who was engrossed in spiritual activities and who had thousands millions of disciples all over India and, therefore, was not likely to indulge in the illegal acts alleged against him. The High Court further held that a saintly old man would not commit sexual intercourse with the pracharak of his cult in the presence of his disciples; that the conduct of the victims and the delay in disclosing the illegal acts to their parents and the police showed that the girls had leveled false allegations against the accused; that there was no independent corroboration of the story of the victims and that the absence of external injuries on the person of the prosecutrix showed that her version was false. Hence this appeal. On behalf of the appellant-State it was contended that the High Court far exceeded the limits of consideration at the stage of Section 227 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973; and that the High Court committed error in sifting and weighing the material placed before the Court by applying the standard of test and proof which was to be applied finally for deciding whether the accused was guilty or not. =Allowing the appeal, this Court HELD: 1.1. At the stage of Sections 227 and 228 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 the Court is required to evaluate the material and documents on record with a view to finding out if the facts emerging therefrom taken at their face value disclose the existence of all the in-gredients constituting the alleged offence. The Court may, for this limited purpose, sift the evidence, as it cannot be expected even at that initial stage to accept all that the prosecution states as gospel truth even if it is opposed to common sense or the broad probabilities of the case. Therefore, at the stage of framing of the charge the Court has to consider the material with a view to find out if there is ground for presuming that the accused has committed the offence or that there is no sufficient ground for proceeding against him and not for the purpose of arriving at the conclusion that it is not likely to lead to a conviction. [939-D-G] 1.2. What the Court has to consider at the stage of framing of the charge is whether the version of the person complaining together with his/her explanation is prima facie believable or not. It was, therefore, not proper for the High Court to seek independent corroboration at that stage and to quash the charge and discharge the accused in absence thereof. The High Court was wholly wrong in discarding the material placed before the Court as false and discharging the accused on that ground. [943-C-F] Niranjan Singh Punjabi v. Jitendra Bijjaya, [1990] 4 SCC 76, relied on. State of Punjab v.Jagir Singh, AIR (1977) SC 2407, held inapplicable. Union of India v. Prafulla Kumar Samal & Anr., [1979] 2 SCR 229, referred to. 13. The Sessions Court is directed to proceed further with the trial in accordance with law and to consider afresh whether the charge is required to be altered or amended so as to make it consistent with Section 219 of the Code. 2.1. In the present case, the High Court was much influenced by the submission made on behalf of the defence that the accused is a saintly old man, who has renounced the world, who is engrossed in spiritual activity and who has thousands/millions of disciples all over India and, therefore, he was not likely to indulge in the illegal acts alleged against him. It failed to appreciate that it is not unusual to come across cases where the so-called spiritual heads exploit young girls and women who become their disciples and come under their spell. Moreover, the reasoning of the High Court that it also does not stand to reason that a saintly man who has thousands/millions of disciples all over India would commit sexual inter- course with the pracharak of his cult in the presence of his disciples stands vitiated because of the vice of misreading the statements. The three rape victims have nowhere stated in their statements that the accused had sexual intercourse with them in the presence of other disciples. The High Court gave too much importance to the conduct of the three victims and the delay in disclosing those illegal acts to their parents and the police. What the High Court has failed to appreciate is how a victim of such an offence will behave would depend upon the circumstances in which she is placed. It often happens that such victims do not complain against such illegal acts immediately because of factors like fear or shame or uncertain-ties about the reactions of their parents or husbands in case of married girls or women and the adverse consequences which, they apprehend, would follow because of disclosure of such acts. What the three girls had stated in their statements was not inherently improbable or unnatural. They have disclosed the reasons why they could not immediately complain about those illegal acts for such a long time. What the High Court has failed to appreciate is that while making a complaint to the police or giving their statements they were not required to give detailed explanations. 2.2. It was also improper on the part of the High Court to describe the version of the prosecutrix as false because no external injuries were noticed on her person while she was examined by a doctor. Modi: “Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology”, referred to. CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Criminal Appeal No. 263 of 1997.

PETITIONER:
Kusuma_Sarovar Ghat Vrindavan

Image via Wikipedia


STATE OF MAHARASHTRA

 Vs.

RESPONDENT:
PRIYA SHARAN MAHARAJ & ORS.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11/03/1997

BENCH:
G.N. RAY, G.T. NANAVATI

ACT:

HEADNOTE:JUDGMENT:
 J U D G M E N T
NANAVATI
 Leave granted.
 Heard the learned counsel.
 On 11.5.91, one Purushottam Wasudeo Deshpande lodged a
complaint at the Dhantoli Police Station, Nagpur that his
two young daughters, Hema and Meera were kidnaped by Priya
Sharan Maharaj (Respondent No.1) with the help of Suhasini
(Respondent No.6) and Sharwari Devi (Respondent No.7.) On
the basis of this report an offence was registered under
Section 365 and 366 IPC. Investigation of that offence
disclosed that Kripalu maharaj (respondent No.2), who claims
to be a spiritual teacher and has his Ashrams at Vrindavan
and Mangadh, is a highly immoral person and in order to
satisfy his lust he, with help of his disciples, including
Respondent Nos. 1 and 3 to 7, used to entice young girls and
have sexual intercourse with them against their wish
Respondent No.2, through his disciples, used to impress upon
the young girls that he is the incarnation of Lord Krishna,
that they should treat him as their husband and that what he
was doing with them was in the nature of 'Prasad' of God and
by such acts they were really blessed. The investigation
further disclosed that Meera, Hema and one Sulakshana were
thus subjected to sexual intercourse by Kripalu Maharaj.
Accordingly, the offence which was registered against them
earlier under Section 363 and 366 IPC was altered to an
offence under Section 376 IPC and all the seven respondent
were shown as accused.
 On being chargesheeted, they were put up for trial
before the learned Second Additional Sessions Judge, Nagpur
who had framed the following charge :
 "1. That, you above named accused
 No.2, prior to 1987 at the house of
 one Nilu Chaurasia, in front of
 Vijay Talkies, Nagpur, committed
 rape on one Kum. Meera D/o
 Purushottam Deshpande, aged 26
 years, r/o Nagpur, against he will
 and with her consent, posing
 yourself, you are a devine spirit
 or Lord Krishna. So also, again in
 the month of February, 1991, you
 accused No.2, posing yourself that
 your are a divine spirit of Lord
 Krishna, committed rape on said
 Kum. Meera Deshpande, at the house
 of one Shrivastava, Near Previnamee
 School, Nagpur.
 Again on 16th day of January, 1980
 at about 5.00 p.m. at the house of
 one Khatri, Kadhi Chowk Nagpur,
 committed rape on one Sulakshana
 D/o Shyamsundar Pehankar, a girl
 aged about 14 years, r/o Juni
 Shukrawari, Nagpur. Again on
 14.4.1990, at about 5 p.m. at the
 house of one R.P. Shrivastava,
 nagpur you committed rape on said
 Kum. Sulakshana, posing yourself
 that you are a Divine Spirit of
 Lord Krishna.
 So also, in the month of Sept.
 1986, at the house of one
 Chaurasia, Near Vijay Talkies,
 nagpur, You accused No.2, posing
 yourself, you are a Divine spirit
 of Lord Krishna, committed rape on
 one Kum. Hema @ Brijgauri d/o
 Purushottam Deshpande, aged about
 19 yrs., against her will and
 without her consent, and thereby
 you above named accused No.2,
 committed an offence punishable
 under Section 376 of Indian Penal
 Code, within my congnizance.
 2. Secondly, that above named
 accused No.2 one the aforesaid day,
 date, time and place, committed the
 offence of rape on the said girls,
 and that you above named accused
 Nos. 1,3,4,5,6 and 7, in
 furtherance of your common
 intention, abetted the said accused
 No.2 in the commission of the
 consequence of your abetment. So
 also, you about named accused Nos.
 1, 3 to 7 were personally present
 at the time of commission of said
 offence, and that your all thereby
 committed offences punishable under
 Section 109, 114/R/W Section 34 of
 Indian Penal Code, within my
 cognizance.'
 Aggrieved by framing of the charge the respondents had
preferred a revision application but High Court declined to
interfere as it was open to the respondents to approach the
Sessions Court itself for granting the reliefs prayed for.
The respondents, therefore, filed three applications in the
Sessions Court. Exhibit 36 was for modification of the
charge and Exhibits 37 and 41 were for discharging them. At
the time of hearing of these applications, Exhibit 36 was
not pressed. The learned Additional Judge rejected both the
applications for discharge.
 Against the order passed by the learned Additional
Session Judge, the respondents preferred Criminal Revision
Application No. 130 to 1994 before the Nagpur Bench of the
High Court of Bombay. The High Court, by an unduly long
order running into 89 pages, allowed the Revision
Application, quashed the charge framed against the
respondents and discharged them. The High Court was of the
view that as five acts of rape were committed during the
period from September, 1986 to February, 1991 on three
different girls, the charge as framed was i n contravention
of the provisions of Section 219 of the Code of Criminal
Procedure. It also held that the three girls had told lies
and developed a false story against the respondents and that
"no prudent man can dare to accept of believe" it. The state
has, therefore, filed this appeal.
 The learned counsel for the appellant contended that
the High Court far exceeded the limits of consideration at
Section 227 stage and that has led to failure of justice. It
committed an error of sifting and weighing the material
placed before the Court by applying the standard of test and
proof which is to be applied finally for deciding whether
the accused is guilty or not. What was required to be
considered at that stage was whether the material placed
before the Court disclosed a strong suspicion against the
accused. On the other hand, relying upon the judgments of
this Court in Union of India vs. Prafulla Kumar Samal & Anr.
(1979) 2 SCR 229 and Niranjan Singh Karam Singh Punjabi vs.
Jitendra Bhimraj Bijja & Ors. (AIR 1990 SC 1962), the
learned counsel for the respondents submitted that while
considering and application for discharge,
 If there is no sufficient ground for proceeding against
the accused, the Court has the undoubted power to sift and
weigh the evidence for the limited purpose of finding out
whether or not a prima facie case against the accused is
made out. The material placed before the Court must disclose
grave suspicion against the accused. When two views are
equally possible and if the Court finds that the material
produced before it while giving rise to grave suspicion
against the accused, it will be fully within its right to
discharge the accused. He also submitted that at Section 227
stage the Judge cannot act merely as a post office or a
mouthpiece of the prosecution, but has to consider the broad
probabilities of the case, the total effect of the evidence
and the documents produced before the Court, any basic
infirmities appearing in the case and so on. This is what
the learned Additional Sessions Judge failed to do and the
High court has done. He has thus supported the judgment
passed by the High Court.
 The law on the subject is now well-settled, as pointed
out in Niranjan Singh Punjabi vs. Jitendra Bijjaya (1990) 4
SCC 76, that at Sections 227 and 228 stage the Court is
required to evaluate the material and documents on record
with a view of finding out if the facts emerging therefrom
taken at their face value disclose the existence of all the
ingredients constituting the alleged offence. The Court may,
for this limited purpose, sift the evidence as it cannot be
expected even at that initial stage to accept all that the
prosecution states as gospel truth even if it is opposed to
common sense or the broad probabilities of the case.
Therefore, at the stage of framing of the charge the Court
has to consider the material with a view to find out if
there is ground for presuming that the accused has committed
the offence or that there is not sufficient ground for
proceeding against him and not for the purpose of arriving
at the conclusion that it is not likely to lead to a
conviction.
 What we find from the judgement of the High Court is
that the learned Judge, in order to ascertain the correct
legal position, referred to various decisions and quoted
extensively from them but did not apply the law correctly.
The judgment also contains some quotations which have no
relevance. After referring to the case law, the learned
Judge has observed as under :-
 "Considering the facts and
 circumstances as obtained in the
 instant case, I am reminded of the
 learned observation of their
 Lordships while discussing or
 reflecting on the criminal cases."
and thereafter quoted the following passage from the
decision of this court in State of Punjab vs. Jagir Singh
Baljit Singh and Karam Singh (AIR 1977 Supreme Court 2407) :
 "A Criminal trial is not like a
 fairy tale wherein one is free to
 give flight to itself with the
 question as to whether the accused
 arrainged at the trial is guilty of
 the crime with which he is charged.
 Crime is an event in real life and
 is the product of interplay of
 different human emotions. In
 arriving at the conclusion about
 the guilt of the accused charged
 with the commission of a crime, the
 court has to judge the evidence by
 the yardstick of probabilities, its
 intrinsic worth and the animus of
 witnesses. Every case in the final
 analysis would have to depend upon
 its own facts. although the benefit
 of every reasonable doubt should be
 given to the accused, the courts
 should not at the same time reject
 evidence which is ex facie
 trustworthy on grounds which are
 fanciful or in the nature of
 conjectures."
 That was not a case dealing with the scope and nature
of enquiry at the stage of framing of charge. Those
observations were obviously made in the context of
appreciation of evidence and standard of proof required for
convicting the accused. This clearly indicates that the
learned Judge failed to apply the correct test.
 The following observations again lead us to that
conclusion:
 "Giving conscious thought to the
 rival submission of the learned
 counsel or the parties, it is
 abundantly clear that except the
 statements of prosecutrix, there is
 no evidence directly or indirectly
 to corroborate their testimonies.
 According to Kr. Sulakshana she was
 molested initially on 16.1.1990 an
 subsequently on 14.4.1990 however
 there is no disclosure to anyone
 including her parents. Considering
 her age at the relevant time, no
 injuries were found as indicated by
 Modi. Similarly though Ku. Meera
 alleged that she was molested prior
 to 1987 and in February, 1991,
 instead of disclosing to stay in
 the company of the applicant No.2
 Kripaluji Maharaj and his
 disciples. She not from place to
 place to preach the tenents of the
 cult of Kripaluji Maharaj.
 Similarly, though it is alleged by
 Ku. Hema and she was molested in
 the month of September, 1986, she
 is not the case of the prosecution
 that these two sisters disclosed
 about the indence activities of
 Kripaluji Maharaj amongst
 themselves. Meera and Hema both are
 graduates and Ku. Sulakshna was
 adolesent. It cannot be expected
 from such educated girls to
 continue to accompany the person
 who according to them, proved to be
 demon and to continue in his cult
 propagating his teachings. The
 conduct of all three girls not
 being in consonance with normal
 dispositions of prudent human
 beings corroboration thus, becomes
 a necessity or eminent. Taking
 broad view of the matter,
 particularly various infirmities
 and improbabilities, no man of
 prudence will any importance to the
 story unfolded. It is, thus, clear
 that except the bare words of these
 three girls, their is no other
 evidence to corroborate their
 story. Anything said by victim at
 or about the time of occurrence, to
 their parents/and/or others, would
 form part of res-gestae. Such
 conduct can be a corroborative
 piece of evidence of her/their
 evidence. In other words,
 subsequent conduct not only is
 relevant but important and
 material.
 These three girls levelled
 allegations against the applicant
 No.2 Kripaluji Maharaj after the
 lapse of considerable time i.e.
 after months and years and,
 therefore, the probability as
 depicted by the defence that if was
 at the instance of Nityanand,
 cannot be overruled. I needs
 mention that no report was lodged
 by either of the girls ay any
 time. It is also clear from the
 record that Nityanand's statement
 which was recorded on 11.5.1991
 i.e. on the day on which the F.I.R.
 was lodged by Purushottam
 Deshpande. Subsequently only the
 statements of all the three
 prosecutrix came to be recorded.
 Even in the F.I.R. there is no
 whisper that at any time, the
 applicant no.2 had committed rape
 on any of the prosecutrix or on any
 other disciples.
 So the evidence does not
 become reliable merely because it
 has been corroborated by number of
 witnesses of the same brand.
 In this case, there is
 unreasonable inordinate or extra-
 ordinary delay in leveling
 allegations of physical molestation
 or rape committed, by all the
 three prosecutrix against a saintly
 old man of 69 years of age who
 renounced the world and engrossed
 in spiritual world. The explanation
 as could be revealed from the
 statements as could be revealed
 from the statements of the
 prosecutrix that the disciples of
 Kripaluji Maharaj all the while
 stated that he is an incarnation of
 God and whatever happened with
 them, be taken as a 'Prasad' or
 blessing of God and so not to the
 chestity is the jewel of the Indian
 woman and no woman will consider
 the sexual intercourse against her
 will as 'Prasad' or 'Blessing of
 God'.
 It also does not stand to
 reason that a saintly man who has
 thousands/millions of disciples all
 over India, direct his own disciple
 and in their presence will commit
 sexual intercourse the pracharak of
 his cult.
 Considering the overall effect
 of the evidence collected by the
 prosecution, there is according to
 me, no ring of truth. No prudent
 man can dare to accept or believe
 the infirm and improbable evidence
 of the prosecutrix.
 All these facts go to show
 that the girls evidently told lies
 and developed false story against
 the applicant no.2 and his
 disciples."
 The above quoted paragraphs from the judgment clearly
disclose that the High Curt was much influenced by the
submission made on behalf of the defence that Kripalu
Maharaj is a saintly old man, who has renounced the world,
who is engrossed in spiritual activity and who has
thousands/millions of disciples all over India and,
therefore, he was not likely to indulge in the illegal acts
alleged against him. It failed to appreciate that it is not
unusual to come across cases where the so-called spiritual
heads exploit you girls and women who become their disciples
and come under their spell. Moreover, the reasoning of the
High Court that it also does not stand to reason that a
saintly man who has thousand/millions of disciples all over
India would commit sexual intercourse with the praharak of
his cult in presence of his disciples stands vitiated
because of the vice of misreading the statements. The three
girls have nowhere stated in their statements that R-2 had
sexual intercourse with them in presence of other disciples.
The High Court gave too much importance to the conduct of
the three victims and the delay in disclosing those illegal
acts to their parent and the police. What the High Court has
failed to appreciate is how a victim of such an offence will
behave would depend upon the circumstances in which she is
placed. It often happens that such victims do not complain
against such illegal acts immediately because of factors
like fear or shame or uncertainties about the reactions of
their parents or husbands in case of married girls or women
and the adverse consequences which, they apprehend, would
follow because of disclosure of such acts. What the three
girls had stated i n their statements was not inherently
improbable or unnatural. They have disclosed the reasons why
they could not immediately complain about those illegal acts
for such a long time. What the High Court has failed to
appreciate is that while making complaint to the police or
giving their statements they were not required to give
detailed explanations. As stated earlier, what the Court has
failed to appreciate is that while making a complaint to the
police or giving their statements they were not required to
give detailed explanations. As stated earlier, what the
Court has to consider at the stage of framing of the charge
is whether the version of the person complaining together
with his/her explanation is prima facie believeable or not.
It was, therefore, not proper for the High Court to seek
independent corroboration at that stage and to quash the
charge and discharge the accused in absence thereof. It was
also improper to describe the version of Sulakshana as false
because no extensive injuries were noticed on her person
while she was examined by a doctor on the basis of some
observations made in Modi's textbook on "Medical
Jurisprudence and Toxicology". We do not think it proper to
say anything further as, in the view that we are taking, the
accused will have to face a trial and whatever observations
we make now may cause some prejudice to them at the trial.
We would only say that the High Court was wholly wrong in
discarding the material placed before the Court as false and
discharging the accused on the ground.
 Before us also the learned counsel for the respondents
had made a grievance that the charge as framed was not in
accordance wit Section 219 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
The Application, Exhibit 36, was made to the Sessions Court
for modifications of the charge so as to make it consistent
with Section 219. That application was not pressed and the
Court was invited to dispose of the other application made
by them for quashing the charge and discharging them. As we
are inclined to allow this appeal the Sessions Court will
have to now consider afresh whether the charge is required
to be altered or amended.
 We, therefore, allow this appeal, set aside the
judgement and order passed by the High Court and direct the
Sessions Court to proceed further with the trial in
accordance with law. The trial Court shall do so after re-
examining the material and hearing the learned Public
Prosecutor and the lawyer for the accused on the question of
amending or altering the charge so as to make it consistent
with the relevant provisions of the Code and also after
considering whether it will be possible to try all the
offences at one trial or that they will have to be tried
separately.

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