Rape accused should not be let off on flimsy grounds: SC

New Delhi: Rape accused should not be left scot free by courts on flimsy grounds, the Supreme Court held today while reversing the acquittal of a rapist and murderer of a 11-year-old girl.

"Although the statutory provisions provide strict penal action against such offenders, it is for the Courts to ultimately decide whether such incident has occurred or not," a bench of justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi said.

"The Courts should be more cautious in appreciating the evidence and the accused should not be left scot-free merely on flimsy grounds," it said.

The court noted that the primary concern both at national and international level is about the devastating increase in rape cases and cases relating to crime against women in the world. India is no exception to it, it said.

The apex court passed the judgement while upholding an appeal filed by the UP Government challenging the Allahabad High Court's acquittal of Munesh who raped and murdered 11-year old Roshini in the Bulandshahar district on March 5, 2002.

Though the Sessions Court had convicted and sentenced Munesh to death for the offence, the high court acquitted him on the ground that there was delay in the registration of FIR and apparent contradiction in the statements of certain witnesses.

Disagreeing with the high court's reasoning, the bench said the incident occurred at 4.30 p.m and the complaint was made by the victim's father at 11.05 p.m. on the same day itself at the police station which was 2 kms away from the scene of offence.

The delay was on account of the distance and the efforts of the family to cover the girl's body and trace Munesh who also belonged to the same village.

"If we consider the entire incident as narrated by the father, it cannot be construed that there was any unreasonable and unexplained delay which goes to the root of the prosecution case," the bench said.