Om Parkash, J.
(1) This judgment will dispose of Criminal Appeal No. 219 of 1967 and Criminal Revision No. 205 of 1968, which have arisen out of the same case and are directed against the same judgment of the learned Additional Sessions Judge. By that judgment, the learned Additional Sessions Judge had convicted Rakshit Khosla for various offences and had acquitted Naresh Satia, Ashok Chaddah and Madan Mohan Chopra. The prosecution case was as follows
(2) Kumari Neerja Public Witness 19 is the daughter of Shri Onkar Singh P.W. 6 and Smt. Shanti Devi Public Witness 21, who were residing at D-1/2 Hauz Khas Enclave, New Delhi. Kumari Neerja was born on the 6th November 1949. In March 1966, she was appearing in the metriculation Examination, from a private college, known as Prakash College, Delhi. On the 17th March 1966, at about 10 A.M., she, accompanied by Smt. Wasdevi Public Witness 16. Onkar Singh's sister, had gone to Prakash College. Wasdevi had come back, leaving Kumari Neerja at the College. Kumari Neerja had learnt, at the college, that the class would be taken after some time. She had thought that it would be better if she would return to her house for studying instead of wasting time at the college. On her way back to her house, she was passing in front of house No. D-18, Green Park, New Delhi. Rakshit Khosla, who was standing at the top floor of the house, had signalled to Kumari Neerja, to come up. Kumari Neerja, who had been introduced to Rakshit Khosla, by a common girl friend, Ravinder Chaddah, had thought that Rakshit Khosla wanted to make enquiries about Ravinder Chaddah. She had gone to the top floor under that impression. Besides Rakshit Khosla, there was also Naresh Satia at the top floor. Rakshit Khosla had pushed Kumari Neerja inside the room and had closed the door. He had threatened Kumari Neerja that if she were to make any noise, she would be killed. Rakshit Khosla had compelled Kumari Neerja to take off her clothes. Kumari Neerja had, then, been subjected to sexual intercourse, against her will, first by Rakshit Khosla, and then by Naresh Satia. After that Kumari Neerja was made to take a liquid. She had felt giddy after taking the liquid. She was detained in the room till the evening. Ashok Chaddah, and one other person by the name of Kohli, had come in the evening. Rakshit Khosla had some talk with Ashok Chaddah. After that, Rakshit Khosla had brought Kumari Neerja downstairs and had made her sit in the car of Ashok Chaddah. The car was driven to the New Delhi Railway Station. Kumari Neerja was made to get down from the car and was left at the Railway Station. Ashok Chaddah had given Rs. 5.00 to Kumari Neerja who had kept standing at the Railway Station for 45 minutes, nto knowing what to do. Rakshit Khosla, Ashok Chaddah and Madan Mohan Chopra had come at the Railway Station in two cars. Rakshit Khosla had made Kumari Neerja sit in the car of Madan Mohan Chopra, telling her that she would be left at her house. Rakshit Khosla, Naresh Satia and Ashok Chaddah were in the our car. Madan Mohan Chopra had tried to hold the hand of Kumari Neerja and draw her nearer. Both the cars were being driven hither and thither aimlessly. Near Safdarjang Hospital, Rakshit Khosla and Naresh Satia had come into the car in which Kumari Neerja was. That car was driven to defense Colony. Kumari Neerja was made to get down from the car and was left there. She had walked a few steps and had then sat behind bushes. She had spent the entire night there. On the morning of the 18th March, Kumari Neerja had gone to the New Delhi Railway Station in a scooter rickshaw. She had purchased a platform ticket and had gone to the platform. A train was standing at the platform. Kumari Neerja had boarded that train. The train had reached Amritsar at about 7.00 P.M. Kumari Neerja was checked at Amritsar Railway Station by Mrs. Laxmi Bai, Public Witness 3, Ladies Ticket Collector. Kumari Neerja had no ticket. On enquiries by the Ladies Ticket Collector, Kumari Neerja had begun to weep. Many passengers had collected there. To avoid embarrassment, Mrs. Laxmi Bai had taken Kumari Neerja to her office. Shri C. S. Pal Public Witness 15 Ticket Examiner, had come there. To his query, Kumari Neerja had said that she wanted to go to her girl friend. Raj Sharma, whose maternal grandfather Dr. Charan Das Public Witness 7, was a doctor in the Mental Hospital, Amritsar. Dr. Charan Das could nto be contacted at that time as it was raining heavily and the telephones were out of order. Kumari Neerja remained in the car of Mrs. Laxmi Bai Public Witness 3, and after she had left the office, in the care of Smt. Basanti Public Witness 2, the Aya of the Ladies waiting Room, Amritsar. On the morning of the 19th March, C.S. Pal Public Witness 15, had gone to inform Dr. Charan Das about Kumari Neerja. Dr. Charan Das, his wife and his grand-daughter. Raj Sharma, had come to the Railway Station and had taken Kumari Neerja to their house. Kumari Neerja had nto told anything but had wept when enquiries were made from her. Dr. Charan Das had sent the telegram. Exhibit, P.E., to Onkar Singh Public Witness 6, father of Kumari Neerja, that he should take Kumari Neerja. On receipt of the telegram, Onkar Singh had sent his wife Smt. Shanti Devi Public Witness 21 and his brother-in-law Paras Ram, to Amritsar. They had reached there on the 20th March and had brought Kumari Neerja to New Delhi on the evening of the 21st March.
(3) As Kumari Neerja had nto returned home on the 17th March, Onkar Singh Public Witness 6 had lodged the report Exhibit P.D. at the police station Hauz Khas. He had stated, in the report, that Kumari Neerja had nto returned from school and that search for her had proved fruitless. It was, further, stated that Rakshit Khosla had kidnapped her by holding out some blandishment. The report went on to say that Onkar Singh had seen Rakshit Khosla near his house on many occasions and had seen him once talking to Kumari Neerja. On the basis of the report. Exhibit P.D., the police had registered the F.I.R. Exhibit P.D./1. Rakshit Khosla, Naresh Satia and Madan Mohan Chopra were arrested on the 19th March. Kumari Neerja had been brought from Arnritsar by Smt. Shanti Devi and her brother on the 21st March. She was produced before the police on the 22nd March. The police had gto her medically examined by Dr. (Mrs.) Avinash Kaur Public Witness 9. The doctor was of the view that Kumari Neerja had been subjected to sexual intercourse. The lady doctor had referred Kumari Neerja to Dr. B. B. Kathuria, P.W. 1, Radiologist, for the radiological assessment of the age. The doctor was of the view that Kumari Neerja was more than 18 years of age. The birth entry Exhibit P.G., the entry in the admission forms Exhibit P.S. and Exhibit P.J. and the school leaving certificate Exhibit P.K., gave the date of birth of Kumari Neerja as 6th November 1949. According to these entries, Kumari Neerja was 16 years and 4 months old on the date of occurrence, namely the 17th March, 1966. Kumari Neerja had pointed out to the police the Barsati of D-18, Green Park, where she had been subjected to sexual intercourse, by Rakshit Khosla and Naresh Satia. On the 23rd March, the statement of Kumari Neerja, under section 164, Code of Criminal Procedure, was recorded. Naresh Satia and Rakshit Khosla were examined and were declared capable of performing sexual intercourse respectively, by Dr. S. S. Kaushal Public Witness 12 and Dr. R. K. Jareth Public Witness 13.
(4) On the above allegations, the police had put up a challan for various offences against Rakshit Khosla, Naresh Satia, Madan Mohan Chopra, Ashok Chaddah, Gopal Kohli and Krishan Lal. The committing Magistrate had discharged Gopal Kohli and Krishan Lal but had committed others to the Court of Session. Rakshit Khosla was committed, under sections 366/34, 342/34, 376/34 and 109/354, Indian Penal Code. Naresh Satia was committed on the same charges except the charge under section 109/354, Indian Penal Code. Ashok Chaddah and Madan Mohan Chopra were committed for an offence under section 354, Indian Penal Code.
(5) All the accused had denied the allegations, leveled against hem. They had pleaded that they had been falsely implicated. Rakshit Khosla had admitted that Kumari Neerja had been known to him for more than two months prior to the occurrence, but he had denied that he had signalled her to come to the top floor on the 17th March or had shut her in the room or had committed rape on her. The plea of Rakshit Khosla was that he was out of Delhi on the 17th March, till evening. Though in his statement under section 342, Code of Criminal Procedure, Rakshit Khosla had simply stated that he was out of Delhi and had nto stated where he was on the 17th March, yet he had produced defense evidence to show that he was at Gurgaon from 10-35 A.M. to 6 P.M. on the 17th March. Sub-Inspector Karta Ram D.W. 4 had stated that, in the March 1966, he was working as S.H.O. Sadar Police Station, Gurgaon and that at about 10-35 A.M., at Gurgaon, he had challaned Rakshit Khosla in connection with vehicle No. Dlw 6879 as his license had expired on the 4th November, 1965. Dr. B. S. Grewal D.W. 2 had stated that he was practicing as a doctor in Gurgaon and that on the 17th March, 1966, Rakshit Khosla had been brought to his clinic at about 3.00 P.M., in an unconscious state and that he had remained in his clinic up to 6.CO P.M. Dr. B. S. Grewal had given the certificate Exhibit D. J. to Rakshit Khosla on the 17th March 1966.
(6) The plea of the remaining accused was that Rakshit Khosla bad been called to, and detained in the police station, and that they had gone to the police station to enquire about his welfare. but were arrested by the police.
(7) The learned Additional Sessions Judge, who had tried the case gave the benefit of doubt to Naresh Satia, Ashok Chaddah and Madan Mohan Chopra, and acquitted them. No appeal or revision has been filed against their acquittal. The acquittal has become final.
(8) Rakshit Khosla was acquitted of an offence under section 109/354, Indian Penal Code, but was convicted of offences, under sections 366, 376 and 342, Indian Penal Code. He was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for four years and to pay a fine of Rs. 5,000.00 under section 376, Indian Penal Code. Out of the fine realised, a sum of Rs. 2,000.00 was ordered to be paid to Kumari Neerja. Rakshit Khosla was, further, sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for four years and for one year, respectively, for offences under sections 366 and 342, Indian Penal Code. All the sentences of imprisonment were made to run concurrently.
(9) The findings of the learned Additional Sessions Judge were that the evidence of Kumari Neerja Public Witness 19 in the witness-box, fully established the case against Rakshit Khosla and that if any corroboration of her evidence was necessary, it was to be found in the evidence of her mother, Smt. Shanti Devi Public Witness 21, in her statement made under section 164, Code of Criminal Procedure, and in the evidence of Lady Dr. Avinash Kaur Public Witness 9, The learned Additional Sessions Judge, further, found that the evidence, produced by Rakshit Khosla, in support of his plea of alibi, was of doubtful character and was nto worthy of reliance.
(10) Rakshit Khosla has filed Criminal Appeal No. 219 of 1967 against his conviction and sentence. Onkar Singh Public Witness , father of Kumari Neerja, has filed Criminal Revision No. 205 of 1968, for enhancement of the sentence, imposed upon Rakshit Khosla.
(11) The appeal of Rakshit Khosla may be taken up, first. The first question which requires decision in the appeal is what was the age of Kumari Neerja on the 17th March, 1966, the date of occurrence. According to the prosecution, Kumari Neerja was born on the 6th November, 1949 and her age on the date of occurrence was 16 years and 5 months. According to the defense, the age of Kumari Neerja was more than 18 years on the day of occurrence.
(12) There is abundant evidence on the record to show that Kumari Neerja was born on the 6th November, 1949. Smt. Shanti Devi P.W. 21, mother of Kumari Neerja, had stated that, in 1949, she was working as a teacher in the Infantry School of the Military, Mhow and that her parents used to reside at Mhow and her brothers were also employed there. She had, further, stated that Kumari Neerja had born at Mhow on the 6th November 1949. Exhibit P.G., copy of an entry from the Register of Birth, maintained at Mhow, show that on the 6th November, 1949, a female child was born to Smt. Shanti Devi, wife of Onkar Singh. This entry is connected with Kumari Neerja by the statement of Smt. Shanti Devi Public Witness 21, who had stated that it was Kumari Neerja, who had born to her at Mhow on the 6th November 1949. Kumari Neerja was admitted to Government Girls Primary School, Begumpur, New Delhi. The admission form is Exhibit P.S. In this form, the date of birth of Kumari Neerja is shown as 6th November, 1949. The admission form was proved-by Mrs. Krishna Khanna Public Witness 14, who was Headmistress of the School. The date was filled in, on information supplied by Smt. Wasdevi P.W. 16, Onkar Singh's sister. Kumari Neerja left that school in 1955. Exhibit P.K.., which was also proved by Mrs. Krishna Khanna, is the school leaving certificate. In this document, the date of birth of Kumari Neerja is given as 6th November 1949. After leaving the Begumpur school, Kumari Neerja had joined Government Higher Secondary School, Malviya Nagar. Exhibit P.J. is the admission form of that school. Exhibit P.H. is the school leaving certificate of that school. In both the documents, the date of birth of Kumari Neerja is mentioned as 6th November 1949. In the admission form Exhibit P.BB, for the metriculation Examination and in the metriculation Certificate Exhibit P.AA, the date of birth of Kumari Neerja is again shown as 6th November 1949. The documents Exhibits P.AA. and P.BB. had, no doubt, come into existence after the occurrence, but all the other documents referred to above had come into existence long before the occurrence.
(13) It appears, from the judgment of the learned Additional Sessions Judge, that before him, a lto of argument was built, on behalf of Rakshit Khosla, on the basis of an entry in admission forms. Exhibits D.M. and D.Q. (nto Exhibit D.N. as stated in the judgment of the learned Additional Sessions Judge). The date of birth of Kumari Neerja, in these forms, is stated to be as 6th November 1950. The argument, before the learned Additional Sessions Judge, was that the parents of Kumari Neerja were in the habit of making wrong statements about the date of birth of Kumari Neerja to suit their purposes and that their evidence that Kumari Neerja had been born on the 6th November 1949 should nto be believed. The argument was rejected by the learned Additional Sessions Judge. The argument was nto presented in this Court. I am in agreement with the learned Additional Sessions Judge that the year '1950' was stated in the admission forms by a slip and it was a genuine mistake for the year 1949.
(14) The only evidence, on which reliance was placed on behalf of Rakshit Khosla, for proving that Kumari Neerja was more than 18 years old, on the date of the occurrence, was the evidence of Dr. B. B. Kathuria DW-1, who was Radiologist in the Police Hospital, Rajpur Road, Delhi and to whom Kumari Neerja had been referred for assessment of her age. Dr. B. B. Kathuria had taken skiagrams. Exhibits D.G./1 to D.G. 3, and had come to the conclusion, on the basis of the epiphysis of bones, that the age of Kumari Neerja was above 18 years. The prosecution had nto produced Dr. B. B. Kathuria. The defense had produced him.
(15) As already discussed, the birth certificate and the school certificates of Kumari Neerja establish that her date of birth was 6th November, 1949. This date will give her age on the date of occurrence as 16 years and four months. The statement of Dr. B.B.Kathuria that Kumari Neerja was more than 18 years old is based on the extent of ossification and epiphysis in bones. This is opinion evidence and cannto have preference over the evidence of age furnished by the birth entry and the school certificates. Reference, in this connection, may be made to Chathu v. P. Govindan Kutty, (1).
(16) As a result of the above discussion, I hold, in agreement with the learned Additional Sessions Judge, that Kumari Neerja was born on the 6th November 1949 and she was a little over 16 years of age on the date of occurrence.The next question, which requires decision, is whether Kumari Neerja had been taken out of the lawful keeping of her guardians, by Rakshit Khosla, unlawfully confined and had been subjected to sexual intercourse without her consent or against her will. Kumari Neerja Public Witness 19 had stated that, on the 17th March, 1966, at about 10 A.M., she was returning from the College to her house and that on her way back she had passed in front of house D-l 8, Green Park, that Rakshit Khosla, whom she had known before, was standing at the top floor of that house and had signalled her to come up. Kumari Neerja had, further, stated that she had obeyed the signal and gone to the top floor, under the impression, that Rakshit Khosla wanted to make enquiries about his friend Ravinder Chaddah, who had introduced Kumari Neerja, to Rakshit Khosla. Kumari Neerja was pushed into the room by Rakshit Khosla. According to Kumari Neerja, she had been asked to take off her clothes by Rakshit Khosla which she did. Rakshit Khosla and Naresh Satia had then sexual intercourse with her against her will. Kumari Neerja, then, narrated how she had been brought downstairs and taken to Railway Station and left there and again after forty-five minutes taken to defense Colony and left there where she had spent the night behind the bushes. In short, Kumari Neerja fully supported the prosecution case as set out in the opening part of this judgment.
(17) The learned counsel for Rakshit Khosla contended that the story narrated by Kumari Neerja was improbable and that her evidence could nto be believed. The learned counsel, further, contended, that one of the charges against Rakshit Khosla was that he had committed rape on Kumari Neerja and that the circumstances of the case indicated that Kumari Neerja was a consenting party to the sexual intercourse, and thereforee she was an accomplice whose evidence required corroboration in material particulars of which there was none on record. The learned counsel argued that no conviction can be based on the uncorroborated testimony of Kumari Neerja.
(18) The learned counsel for Onkar Singh and the State, on the other hand, contended that Kumari Neerja had given a straightforward account of the whole occurrence and that her evidence had been believed by the trial Court and there was absolutely no reason to reject it. The learned counsel, further, contended that it was hardly possible that any self-respecting girl would come forward in a Court of Justice to make a humiliating statement against her honour of having been raped unless it was absolutely true. The learned counsel cited Labh Singh v. The Crown (2), The learned counsel, further, contended that it was nto essential that the evidence of Kumari Neerja should have been corroborated by other independent evidence but that there was corroboration of the evidence of Kumari Neerja. The learned counsel also argued that their was no motive or animus, on the part of Kumari Neerja or Onkar Singh, her father, to implicate Rakshit Khosla, falsely.
(19) As a matter of law, the evidence of prosecutrix, in a case under section 376, Indian Penal Code, need nto be corroborated and a conviction can be based on it. But as a rule of prudence, which has hardened into one of law. Courts look for corroboration of the evidence of a prosecutrix, connecting or tending to connect the accused with the crime, unless there be circumstances, justifying dispensing with corroboration. The principles, regarding corroboration, have been laid down by their Lordships of the Supreme Court in Rameshwar v. The State of Rajasthan (3). The head note reads:-
'THE rule which according to the cases has hardened into one of law, is nto that corroboration is essential before there can be a conviction but that the necessity of corrobo ration, as a matter of prudence, except where the circumstances make it safe to dispense with it, must be present to the mind of the Judges, and injury cases, must find place in the charge, before a conviction without corroboration can be sustained. The tender years of the child which is the victim of a sexual offence coupled with other circumstances appearing in the case, such, for example, as its demeanour, unlikelihood of tutoring and so forth, may render corroboration unnecessary but that is a question of fact in every case.
'THE only rule of law is that this rule of prudence must be present in the mind of the Judge or the jury as the case may be and be understood and appreciated by him or them. There is no rule of practice that there must, in every case, be corroboration before a conviction can be allowed to stand.'
(20) The head-note, further, gives the nature of corroboration required. It reads-
'IT would be impossible indeed it would be dangerous to formulate the kind of evidence which should, or. would, be regarded as corroboration. Its nature and extent must necessarily vary with the circumstances of each case and also according to the particular circumstances of the offence charged. But to this extent, the rules are clear:- (1) It is nto necessary that there should be an independent confirmation of every material circumstance in the sense that the independent evidence in the case, apart from the testimony of the complainant or the accomplice, should in itself be sufficient to sustain conviction. All that is required is that there must be some additional evidence rendering it probable that 'the story of the accomplice (or complainant) is true and that it is reasonably safe to act upon it. (2) The independent evidence must nto only make it safe to believe that the crime was committed but must in some way reasonably connect or tend to connect the accused with it by confirming in some material particulars the testimony of the accomplice or complainant that the accused committed the crime. (3) The corroboration must come from independent sources and thus ordinarily the testimony of one accomplice would nto be sufficient to corroborate that of another. (4) The corroboration need nto be direct evidence that the accused committed the crime. It is sufficient if it is merely circumstantial evidence of his connection with the crime.'
(21) Kumari Neerja had stated that she had been subjected to intercourse forcibly. Her conduct and other circumstances indicate that she was a consenting party to the whole affair and and that her statement made in Court that force was used against her is nto correct. Kumari Neerja and Rakshit Khosla were known to each other at least for two months prior to the occurrence. Onkar Singh Public Witness 6 had stated in the report Exhibit P.D. that he had seen Rakshit Khosla near his house several times and that on one occasion he had seen Rakshit Khosla talking to Kumari Neerja. As she was known to Rakshit Khosla previously, there is nothing improbable that she had gone upstairs to meet Rakshit Khosla without the making of any signal by the latter. It may be pointed out that in her statement, made to the police, Kumari Neerja had nto stated that Rakshit Khosla had made a signal to her. According to Kumari Neerja, she had been pushed into the room by Rakshit Khosla. She did nto make any noise at that time. Had she nto been a consenting party, she would have raised a hue and cry. It was day-time between 10 and 11 A.M. Strangely enough, she had put off her clothes at the behest of Rakshit Khosla, without protesting in the least. It was stated by Kumari Neerja that she had been threatened with life in case she made a noise. The threat had nto been at the point of a pistol or a knife. A verbal threat would nto have prevented her from crying. Kumari Neerja had been subjected to sexual intercourse by two young well-built men. But there were no injuries or marks of violence on her body or private parts. In fact, she did nto offer any resistance against being subjected to sexual intercourse. If sexual intercourse be without consent, one expects to find evidence of struggle to avoid sexual intercourse or penetration vide Taylor's Principles and Practice of Medical Jurisprudence, Twelfth Edition Page 62. There were no marks of struggle on the body of Kumari Neerja. The inference is that she was a consenting party to the sexual intercourse. It was urged, by the learned counsel, for the State and Onkar Singh, that Kumari Neerja was a frail girl and she had been frightened out of her life by Rakshit Khosla and Naresh Satia who were two well-built youngmen and that she failed to offer resistance on account of being in the grip of fear. Rakshit Khosla was nto a stranger to Kumari Neerja. She could nto have been frightened by him out of her wits. It is nto the case of the prosecution that Kumari Neerja had been gagged or her hands had been tied in the room or that one person had caught of her hands and the other had committed sexual intercourse. Kumari Neerja had been detained in the room from near-about 10 A.M. till the evening. She had nto made any efforts to come out of the room. In the evening, she had been taken downstairs and made to sit in the car. Here was an opportunity for Kumari Neerja to raise alarm and seek help for getting out of the hands of her ravishers. But she did nto cry out or do any other act to solicit help. She calmly sat in the car and made no enquiries about the destination of the car. When she had come downstairs, she could have gone to her house, which was nto far off from D-18, Green Park. It was suggested, by the learned counsel for Onkar Singh, that there were only scattered houses in the defense Colony and the cries of Kumari Neerja would nto have brought any help to her. The suggestion stands belied by the evidence of Padam Kumar Public Witness 10, the owner of D-18, Green Park. Padam Kumar had stated that he had let out the top floor of the house to Naresh Satia and Raghunath Munjal Public Witness 11. In cross-examination, Padam Kumar had admitted that there were four or five houses on either side of D-18, Green Park and that those houses were in habited. Padam Kumar had, further, stated that there were houses in the front row also and there was a Barsati on the right as well as on the left side. Padam Kumar had, further, admitted that persons were living with their families on the ground floor and the first floor of D-19, Green Park. It is quite clear that D-18, Green Park was situated in a densely populated area and help would have been forthcoming, had Kumari Neerja cared to solicit it by crying or otherwise. Kumari Neerja had been taken to the New Delhi Railway station in the evening. At the Railway Station, she was given Rs. 5.00 by Ashok Chaddah. She had taken that amount. Had she been nto a consenting party, she would have indignantly thrown away the amount in the face of Ashok Chaddah. She remained standing at the Railway Station for 45 minutes, but did nto go home. Rakshit Khosla and others had come there in two cars. She was made to sit in one of the cars. She did nto resist. She had been left at the defense Colony. She did nto ask Rakshit Khosla to leave her at her house. She preferred to spend the night in the bushes. Even on the morning, she did nto go to her house but left for Amritsar. The conduct of Kumari Neerja in nto immediately complaining about the alleged outrage she had ample opportunity to do so and in roaming with her ravishers after the alleged outrage, instead of going to her house, is consistent with the only hypothesis that she was a consenting party to the incident.
(22) The learned counsel for Onkar Singh had tried to explain the unnatural conduct of Kumari Neerja by stating that the rape committed by Rakshit Khosla had put Kumari Neerja out of her wits and she did nto know what to do and that she was ashamed of showing her face to the parents on account of the agony of disgrace. Kumari Neerja was nto an unlettered village girl. She was a city girl. She had studied in Delhi for about ten years. She was appearing for the metriculation at the relevant time. Had she been forcibly subjected to sexual intercourse, the first natural instinct with her would have been to go home to her mother and unburden her mind to her by telling what had happened to her. She could at least have called for help when she was coming downstairs. She did nto take any of the obvious steps. She preferred to remain with her ravishers for so long as they wished her to be with them. It appears that Kumari Neerja had nto gone home as she could nto have been able to explain where she had been from 10.A.M. till evening. In August 1965 and March 1966, Kumari Neerja was poor at studies. This may be an additional reason for her nto going home after wasting a full day in examination days. Kumari Neerja was a consenting party to the sexual intercourse and her evidence is of the nature of an accomplice.
(23) There was likelihood of Kumari Neerja, having been tutored. Doctor Charan Das Public Witness 7 had sent, from Amritsar, telegram Exhibit P.E. to Onkar Singh to take Neerja. The telegram had reached Delhi on the night of the 19th March. Onkar Singh had nto given the telegram to the police till the 21st March, though he had lodged report Exhibit P.D. with the police on the 17th March. The Explanationn of Onkar Singh was that he did nto know Dr. Charan Das, the sender of the telegram and he doubted the genuineness of the telegram. Onkar Singh, further, explained that he had sent his wife and brother-in-law to Amritsar to ascertain about the correctness of the telegram. The Explanationn of Onkar Singh for nto handing over the telegram on the 19th or 20th to the police does nto sound plausible. The telegram Exhibit P.E. described the sender as 'Charan Das grandfather of Raj'. Raj was a friend of Neelam and Neerja, daughters of Onkar Singh and must have been known to the family. The mention of the name of Raj in the telegram should have removed all suspicions, if there were any, about the correctness of the telegram from the mind of Onkar Singh. The suggestion, made by the learned counsel for Rakshit Khosla, that Onkar Singh had nto handed over the telegram to the police as it had upset his theory about Kumari Neerja having been kidnapped by Rakshit Khosla as given to the police in Exhibit P.D. and he wanted that his wife should first meet Kumari Neerja and tell her what had been stated by Onkar Singh to the police, before the police could contact her, on the basis of the telegram Exhibit P.E., appears to be more plausible. Onkar Singh had lodged the report Exhibit P.D. that Rakshit Khosla had kidnapped Kumari Neerja. The telegram showed that she was at Amritsar with her friend Raj. This telegram was in conflict with his report Exhibit P.D. This fact must have nonplussed him. He had thereforee, sent his wife and brother-in-law to contact Kumari Neerja, first, before handing over the telegram to the police. It is significant to note that though Kumari Neerja had arrived at Delhi on the 21st, yet her statement was nto recorded till the 23rd March. Naunihal Singh P.W. 23, the investigating officer, stated that he did nto think that the recording of the statement of Kumari Neerja was a very urgent matter.
(24) The evidence of Kumari Neerja has been disbelieved by the learned Additional Sessions Judge, with respect to Naresh Satia, Ashok Chaddah and Madan Mohan Chopra. It will be unsafe to act upon her evidence with respect to Rakshit Khosla unless it is corroborated by independent testimony, either direct or circumstantial, vide Ahmed Pillai Saithu Muhammad & others v. State
(25) For all the above reasons, I am of the opinion that corroboration in the present case, cannto be dispensed with and that uncorroborative evidence of Kumari Neerja cannto be acted upon to sustain the conviction of Rakshit Khosla. The absence of motive or animus is nto relevant while determining the question of corroboration. Kumari Neerja had told an untruth that she was nto a consenting party. The observation that no self-respecting girl would make a false statement in Court that she had been raped is nto of universal application and does nto apply to the present case.
(26) The learned counsel for the State and Onkar Singh placed reliance on the following pieces of evidence as corroborating the evidence of Kumari Neerja:-
1.Evidence of Onkar Singh Public Witness 6 that he had seen Rakshit Khosla near his house several times and had seen him talking to Kumari Neerja once. His statement Exhibit P.D. that he suspected that Rakshit Khosla had kidnapped Kumari Neerja. 2. Statement made by Kumari Neerja to her mother at Amritsar and in the train about what had happened to her. 3. Evidence of Miss Raj Kumari Public Witness 1, Dr. Charan Das Public Witness 7, Smt. Basanti Public Witness 2, Mrs. Laxmi Bai Public Witness .3 and C. S. Pal Public Witness 15 that Kumari Neerja was at Amritsar on the 18th, 19th and 20th March. 4. Evidence of Lady Dr. Avinash Kaur Public Witness 9 that Kumari Neerja had been subjected to sexual intercourse. 5. Pointing out of the Barsati of D-18, Green Park by Kumari Neerja where she was alleged to have been raped. 6. The statement, made by Kumari Neerja under section 164, Code of Criminal Procedure, on the 23rd March.
(27) The statement, made by Kumari Neerja, under section 164, Code of Criminal Procedure, does nto amount to the corroboration in material particulars which the Courts require in relation to the evidence of an accomplice. An accomplice cannto corroborate himself, .tainted evidence does nto lose its taint by repetition, vide Bhulioni Sahu v. The King,.
(28) The presence of Kumari Neerja at Arnritsar does nto connect or tend to connect Rakshit Khosla with the crime. It is nto the prosecution case that Rakshit Khosla had taken Kumari Neerja to Amiritsar. It is doubtful whether the pointing of Barsati by Kumari Neerja was admissible in evidence. It was a statement made by a witness to the police and was hit by section 162, Code of Criminal procedure. Even if it be admissible, it is of no value. Kumari Neerja used to pass by D-18, Green Park, on her way to College. She fully well knew the Barsati. Lady Doctor Mrs. Avinash Kaur Public Witness 9 had examined Kumari Neerja on the 22nd March. In the Committing Court, the Lady Doctor had stated that sexual intercourse had taken place more than one week from the date of examination. This will take us to the 14th and 15th March. According to Kumari Neerja. she had been raped on the 17th March. Before the learned Additional Sessions Judge, Lady Doctor Mrs. Avinash Kaur had at first, stated that she could nto tell as to how many days earlier, Kumari Neerja had sexual intercourse. When pressed by the Public prosecutor, the Lady Doctor stated that the sexual intercourse had taken place one week prior to the examination. It is clear that the Lady Doctor was nto sure when sexual intercourse had taken place. According to her evidence, sexual intercourse had taken place before the date of occurrence. The evidence of the Lady Doctor does nto corroborate the evidence of Kumari Neerja that she had been subjected to sexual intercourse on the 17th March. It is nto clear, on the record, what statement Kumari Neerja had made to her mother at Amritsar or in the train. Smt. Shanti Devi had stated that Kumari Neerja could nto tell her the whole story at Amritsar because of the fact that some one or the other would come in the meantime. Smt. Shanti Devi had, further, stated that Kumari Neerja had given her the whole story in the train. Smt. Shanti Devi does nto state what that story was. Assuming that the story given was the one which was, later on, given by Kumari Neerja in Court,. the statement made by Neerja to her mother in the train on the 21st March, three days after the occurrence, cannto be regarded to have been made at or about the time of the occurrence and cannto be used as corroboration. The statement of Onkar Singh that he had seen Rakshit Khosla talking to Kumari Neerja before the occurrence will nto corroborate the evidence of Kumari Neerja that she had been kidnapped by Rakshit Khosla on the 17th March.
(29) It follows that there is no independent corroboration of the material particulars of the evidence of Kumari Neerja which may connect or tend to connect Rakshit Khosla with the crime, charged against him. It will be unsafe to accept the solitary statement of Kumari Neerja for sustaining the conviction of Rakshit Khosla.
(30) Moreover, the statement of Kumari Neerja, shorn of its exaggerations and improbabilities, does nto establish any offence against Rakshit Khosla. That statement amounts to this: Kumari Neerja had gone to the top floor of D-18, Green Park. She had sexual intercourse with Rakshit Khosla and Naresh Satia. She had remained in the top floor till evening. In the evening, she had been brought downstairs and taken in a car to the New Delhi Railway Station. She had remained there for forty-five minutes. Rakshit Khosla with others had again come at the Railway Station. Kumari Neerja was taken in a car and after being taken hither and thither was left in the defense Colony in the night. In the morning she had gone to the Railway Station and had boarded a train for Arnritsar. She had travelled without ticket. At Arnritsar, she had stayed with Dr. Charan Das P.W. 7 and was brought back on the 21st by her mother and maternal uncle.
(31) To establish a charge under section 376, Indian Penal Code, against Rakshit Khosla, the prosecution had to prove that Kumari Neerja had been subjected to sexual intercourse against her will or without her consent, as the prosecution case itself was that Kumari Neerja was more than 16 years of age on the date of occurrence. It has already been shown that the prosecution had failed to do that and that Kumari Neerja was a willing party to sexual intercourse. The charge under section 376, Indian Penal Code, was nto proved against Rakshit Khosla. His conviction under that section cannto be sustained.
(32) It was contended, by the learned counsel for Onkar Singh, that Rakshit Khosla had never taken the plea that he had sexual intercourse with Kumari Neerja with her consent and that his only plea was total denial of all the allegations. The learned counsel, further, contended that the prosecution witnesses were nto cross-examined, with respect to Kumari Neerja being a consenting party to sexual intercourse. In the circumstances, the learned counsel argued, Rakshit Khosla could nto avail himself of the plea that Kumari Neerja was a consenting party to sexual intercourse. The learned counsel placed reliance on the head notes in Emperor v. Nga Nyon, and E.D. Smith v. Emperor, The head-note in the former authority reads:
'WHEN the defense fails to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses concerning the version of the facts which the defense allege, it is usually safe to conclude that the defense is an afterthought, and in fact had nto even been connected at the time when the prosecution witnesses are examined.'
(33) The head-note, relied upon, in the second authority reads:-
'AN accused person is always entitled to hold his tongue; but, where the only alternative theory to his guilt is a remote possibility, which if correct, he is in a position to explain, the absence of any Explanationn must be considered in determining whether the possibility should be disregarded or taken into account.'
It has already been pointed out that the burden of proving that Khosla had sexual intercourse with Kumari Neerja without her consent or against her will, was on the prosecution. It was nto for Rakshit Khosla to prove that Kumari Neerja had consented to sexual intercourse. There was no question of setting up of the plea of existence of consent by Rakshit Khosla. Kumari Neerja was cross-examined at length and her evidence was shaken to some extent. In her examination-in-chief, she had stated that sexual intercourse had been committed with her without her consent and against her will. It is difficult to say what other question could have been put to Kumari Neerja in crossexamination. No other prosecution witness had deposed about sexual intercourse. Rakshit Khosla can legitimately avail of the plea that Kumari Neerja had consented to sexual intercourse, in the circumstances of the case.
(34) The authorities, cited by the learned counsel, are of no assistance to him. In Air 1935 Ran 393, a boy of ten was alleged to have attempted to have sexual intercourse with a girl of three. The defense, set up by the boy was that the girl had picked up his marble which he was shooting from a bow and refused to return it and so he had beaten her. The witnesses were nto cross-examined with respect to the defense plea set up by the boy. The observations relied upon by the learned counsel were made in that context. In the present case, Kumari Neerja, the only witness on the point of consent, had been crossexamined. In the Madras case, E.D. Smith had been hauled up under section 411, Indian Penal Code, for retention of articles stolen from Army Clothing Factory, Madras. The articles had been recovered from his shop which was near the Army Clothing Factory. On behalf of E.D. Smith, it was suggested that articles might have been legitimately disposed of and found their way to his shop. E. D. Smith had failed to explain how the articles could find their way into his shop. The observations relied upon were made in that context and can have no relevancy to the present case.
(35) The second offence, for which Rakshit Khosla has been convicted, is one under section 342, Indian Penal Code. It is nto improbable that Kumari Neerja had gone into the room voluntarily and had remained there voluntarily till evening. She had nto been wrongfully confined. The conviction under section 342, Indian Penal Code, is also to be set aside.
(36) The third offence, from which Rakshit Khosla has been convicted, is one under section 366, Indian Penal Code. It is doubtful whether Rakshit Khosla had signalled to Kumari Neerja and she had obeyed the signal and gone to the top floor of D-18, Green Park. She had nto stated before the police that Rakshit Khosla had signalled her to come to the top floor. Rakshit Khosla was known to her. The probability cannto be ruled out that, on seeing Rakshit Khosla standing at the top floor, she had gone there of her own accord. Rakshit Khosla had nto given any inducement or persuasion to Kumari Neerja to leave the guardianship of her father. To constitute 'taking' within the meaning of section 361, Indian Penal Code, it is necessary that the accused should have persuaded, or had held out some inducement to, or had taken active participation in the formation of the intention of the minor to leave the lawful guardianship [vide S. Varadarajan v. State of Madras, 8]. It cannto be held, in the present case, that Rakshit Khosla had held out any inducement, pur suasion or had taken active participation in the formation of the intention of Kumari Neerja to leave lawful guardianship of her father, even if it be assumed that Rakshit Khosla had signalled her to come upstairs.
(37) The conviction of Rakshit Khosla for an offence under section 366, Indian Penal Code, is to be set aside.
(38) The learned counsel for Onkar Singh and the State had cited certain cases which may be noted. The first case, cited was The State v. Babu Lal, (9). In that case, a girl had been sent by her father to purchase milk from Khanda Falsa. The accused had met the girl in the way and had asked her to accompany him on the bicycle as he was also going to Khanda Falsa for purchasing milk. The girl had first hesitated to go with him but when he told her that her father had directed him to take her to Khanda Falsa, the girl had believed the accused and had agreed to go with him on his bicycle. When the accused had reached Khanda Falsa the girl had asked him to leave her there, but the accused insisted that she must proceed to Siwanchi Gate where she was likely to get milk at cheaper rate. On reaching Siwanchi Gate, Babulal took the girl to the house of his friend and had threatened her with a knife. It is clear that in the Rajasthan case, the girl had left the guardianship of her father under the influence and persuasion of the accused. The accused had also threatened her with a knife. In the present case, there was no inducement or persuasion by Rakshit Khosla to Kumari Neerja to leave lawful guardianship. There was no threat on the point of knife.
(39) The second case relied upon was The State v. Sulekh Chand, In that case, the girl Balbiri was a daughter of Tilak Ram, a labour contractor, employed at Chandigarh. Sulekh Chand, who was employed by the same company, was living in a hut close to the hut of Tilak Ram. Sulekh Chand was friendly to Tilak Ram. On the day of occurrence, when Tilak Ram was away from his hut, Sulekh Chand had gone to his hut and had persuaded Balbiri to accompany him telling her that her father wanted to make some purchases in the bazar. For this purpose, Balbiri had taken with her Rs. 70.00 in currency notes. However instead of taking her to the bazar, Sulekh Chand had taken her outside the town and had told her that he wanted to marry her and had then taken her to bus-stand from where they had travelled to Ambala by bus and then from Ambala to Delhi by bus where Sulekh Chand had taken her by a scooter Ricksha to Okhla and eventually to his house in village called Khanpur. The girl had alleged that she was compelled to accompany Sulekh Chand because he had threatened to kill her. In this case again, Sulekh Chand had held out persuasion and inducement to Balbiri. He was, thereforee, guilty of taking the girl out of lawful guardianship of her father.
(40) The last case relied upon was In re-Khalandar Saheb, a case decided by Subba Rao C.J. of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, as he then was. This case was considered and explained by a Bench of the Supreme Court to which Mr. Justice Subba Rao was a party in : 1965CriLJ33 . Their Lordships of the Supreme Court made the following observations:-
'AFTER pointing out that there is an essential distinction between the word 'taking' and 'enticing' it was no doubt observed that the mental attitude of the minor is nto of relevance in the case of taking and that the word 'take' means to cause to go, to escort or to get into possession. But these observations have to be understood in the context of the facts found in that case. For, it had been found that the minor girl whom the accused was charged with having kidnapped had been persuaded by the accused when she 'had gone out of her house for answering the call of nature, to go along with him and was taken by him to another village and kept in his uncle's house until she was restored back to her father by the uncle later. Thus, here there was an element of persuasion by the accused person which brought about the willingness of the girl and this makes all the difference.'
(41) Learned counsel for Onker Singh and the State had contended that the evidence adduced by Rakshit Khosla for proving his plea of alibi was false and fabricated and that this fact was a very strong piece of evidence against Rakshit Khosla. Rakshit Khosla had produced evidence that he was at Gurgaon from 10-35 A.M. to 6 P.M. on the 17th March 1966. The additional Sessions Judge was of the view that the evidence produced by Rakshit Khosla was of doubtful character. I agree with that view. The plea that Rakshit Khosla was at Gurgaon from 10-35 A.M. to 6 P.M. was nto put up by him in his statement under section 342, Code of Criminal Prodcedure, either before the committing Magistrate or before the learned Additional Sessions Judge, though he had stated that he was nto in Delhi on the date of occurrence. The plea that he was at Gurgaon on the 17th March appears to be an after thought. The evidence of Sub Inspector Karta Ram D.W.4, who had stated that he had challaned Rakshit Khosla on the 17th March, 1966, at about 10-35 A. M. in connection with a motor cycle, does nto inspire confidence. Karta Ram had nto made any entry about the challan in the Daily Diary of the police station. It may be pointed out that the challan Book Exhibit D.K. and the Challan Exhibit D.K./1 filed by Karta Ram, could nto be traced on the record at the time of arguments in this Court.
(42) Another witness, produced by Rakshit Khosla, in support of the plea of alibi was Dr. B. S. Grewal D.W. 2, a medical practitioner of Gurgaon. This witness stated that Rakshit Khosla had been brought to his clinic at about 3.00 P.M. on the 17th March in an unconscious state and that he had remained in his clinic till 6.00 P.M. Dr. B. S. Grewal had given the certificate Exhibit D. J. to Raskshit Khosla. It is interesting to note that in his register of patients. Dr. B.S. Grewal had nto entered that Rakshit Khosla had been brought to his clinic in an unconscious state and that he had remained in his clinic from 3.00 P.M. to 6 00 P.M. Exhibit D./1 is the copy of the entry from the register. The copy bears the date 'March, 1965'.
(43) The evidence of Karta Ram and Dr. B.S. Grewal is of suspicious nature. It does nto establish the plea of alibi of Rakshit Khosla.
(44) But the above finding cannto lead to the inference that the allegations made by the prosecution against Rakshit Khosla are true. In the first place, neither the learned Additional Sessions Judge nor I have held that the plea of alibi was false and fabricated. In the second place the prosecution must stand on its own legs. It cannto succeed on the weakness of the defense. The prosecution, as already discussed, failed to establish its case against Rakshit Khosla.
(45) The result is that Criminal Appeal No. 219 of 1967 of Rakshit Khosla is allowed. His conviction and sentence are set aside. He is acquitted of the offences, under sections 376, 366 and 342, Indian Penal Code. The fine, if paid, shall be refunded to him. Rakshit Khosla is on hail. His bail bond is discharged.
(46) In view of the acquittal of Rakshit Khosla, Criminal Revision No. 205 of 1968 for enhancement of the sentence, is dismissed.