New Delhi, Jan 30 (IANS): The Supreme Court has observed that it would be a folly to treat each breach of promise to marry as a false promise and to prosecute a person for the offence of rape under Section 376, while acquitting a man of rape charges.
The apex court also noted that the deposition of the prosecutrix was recorded by the trial court in English language, though she had deposed in her vernacular language. It emphasized that the evidence of the witness has to be taken down in the language of the court as required under Section 277 Cr.P.C.
A bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and Bela M. Trivedi said that during the course of hearing, it was brought to its notice that deposition of the prosecutrix was recorded by the trial court in English though she had deposed in her vernacular language.
Justice Trivedi, who authored the judgment on behalf of the bench, said the court is apprised that in some of the trial courts, the depositions of the witnesses are not being recorded in their language and are being recorded in English only, as may be translated by the presiding officer.
"In our opinion, the evidence of the witness has to be taken down in the language of the court as required under Section 277 Cr.P.C. If the witness gives evidence in the language of the court, it has to be taken down in that language only. If the witness gives evidence in any other language, it may, if practicable, be taken down in that language, and if it is not practicable to do so, a true translation of the evidence in the language of the court may be prepared," she said.
The bench further added if the witness gives evidence in the language other than the language of the court, a true translation thereof in the language of the court has to be prepared as soon as practicable. "The evidence of the witness has to be recorded in the language of the court or in the language of the witness as may be practicable and then get it translated in the language of the court for forming part of the record," said the bench.
It further added however, recording of evidence of the witness in the translated form in English language only, though the witness gives evidence in the language of the court, or in his/her own vernacular language, is not permissible.
"The text and tenor of the evidence and the demeanor of a witness in the court could be appreciated in the best manner only when the evidence is recorded in the language of the witness. It is therefore directed that all courts while recording the evidence of the witnesses, shall duly comply with the provisions of Section 277 of Cr.PC," said the bench.
Acquitting the accused, the bench noted that in case of breach of promise, one cannot deny a possibility that the accused might have given a promise with all seriousness to marry her, and subsequently might have encountered certain circumstances unforeseen by him or the circumstances beyond his control, which prevented him to fulfil his promise.
The accused was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by the trial court and also directed to pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the victim. The Delhi High Court reduced the sentence to 7 years. The accused moved the apex court challenging the high court order.
The top court said even if the allegations made by the victim in her deposition before the court, are taken on their face value, then also to construe such allegations as 'rape' by the appellant, would be stretching the case too far.
"The prosecutrix being a married woman and the mother of three children was mature and intelligent enough to understand the significance and the consequences of the moral or immoral quality of act she was consenting to," noted the bench, acquitting the accused who was charged with rape on pretext of marriage.