Delhi courts verdict raises questions

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court set aside the life imprisonment awarded to a man for raping and killing a 60-year-old woman “whom he used to call his mother”.

In its judgement on October 31, a division bench of justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Mukta Gupta overturned a trial court order which had awarded life term to Achey Lal for allegedly raping the woman while he was in an inebriated state, resulting in her death.

“Achey Lal, even if held guilty for causing the offence of rape, cannot be held guilty of murder as he neither had any intention nor knowledge that such a forceful act of sexual intercourse would cause the death of the woman. Consequently, he is acquitted for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC,” the court said.

While allowing the appeal of Achey Lal against his conviction and sentence, the court also acquitted him of the charges of rape, saying, “As regards the offence punishable under Section 376 (rape) of the IPC, the woman was aged over 60 years, thus beyond the age of menopause.”

The court also said that the post-mortem report proved beyond “reasonable doubt” that the “woman too had consumed alcohol before she was subjected to sexual intercourse.

“We find force in the contention of the counsel for the appellant (Achey) that even if the sexual intercourse was forceful, it was not forcible and contrary to the wishes and consent of the deceased.

“Hence, we are of the opinion that it has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt that the appellant committed sexual intercourse with the deceased contrary to her wishes or her consent. Consequently, he is also acquitted of the rape charge,” the bench said.

The trial court had, in 2011, awarded rigorous life imprisonment to Achey Lal and also imposed a fine of Rs. 10,000 on him, saying, “He committed forceful sexual intercourse upon a lady older than his age whom he used to call his mother”.

According to the prosecution, the woman, who was working as a domestic help in several homes in the Majnu Ka Tila locality in north Delhi, was found dead at her residence in December 2010. An empty bottle of whisky was found near her body.


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