Delhi High Court orders framing of murder charges against rape accused

New Delhi (PTI): A man, who allegedly raped a woman and inserted wooden sticks into her private parts leading to her death, will also be tried for murder, the Delhi High Court has said, setting aside a trial court order.

The high court expressed its displeasure with the sessions court’s “whimsical, illegal and perverse” decision to not frame murder charge against the accused, saying that it “speaks of non-application of judicial approach”.

Justice Vinod Goel said that the sessions judge committed a “grave error” which led to “failure of justice”, and set aside the lower court’s August 29, 2016 order denying the prosecution’s request for framing of additional charge of murder against the accused under IPC Section 302, which entails a maximum punishment of death.

The high court said, “A cursory look at the post-mortem report shows that a case for murder under Section 302 of the IPC is prima facie made out. Impugned order (of August 29, 2016 of the sessions judge) is per se whimsical, illegal and perverse and speaks of non-application of judicial approach and grave error has been committed by the ASJ by which the failure of justice has in fact occasioned on account of non- framing of charge under Section 302 of the IPC.”

“The additional sessions judge (ASJ) is directed to frame an additional charge under section 302 of the IPC and commence the trial in accordance with law. It is directed that the trial shall be continued on a day to day basis and the ASJ shall conclude the trial within three months of receiving this order,” the high court said in its decision of October 17.

It agreed with the additional public prosecutor’s contention that since the victim was the sole eyewitness and as the insertion of wooden sticks into her private parts would have destroyed evidence of rape, it would be easier to prove the charge of murder against the accused based upon “nature of injuries, medical and last seen evidence”.

The sessions judge had framed the charge of rape against the accused and dismissed the application of the police to add murder to the list of charges in the case, saying the offence under IPC Section 302 was a minor one as compared to a crime under section 376-A (person committing an offence of rape and inflicting injury which causes death or persistent vegetative state), which entails a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

When the police had moved the Delhi High Court, it was given the liberty to approach the sessions judge again for framing of charges.

However, the ASJ again declined the police plea to add murder to the list of charges against the accused and thereafter, the agency once more came to the high court in appeal.