Keeping in mind the large number of false rape cases that crop up, the Delhi High Court has directed trial judges to be cautious while dealing with evidence and asked them to closely scrutinise statement of victims and other witnesses.
"Rape causes the greatest distress and humiliation to the victim, but at the same time a false allegation of rape can cause equal distress, humiliation and damage to the accused as well. The accused must also be protected against the possibility of false implications," Justice GP Mittal said citing a Supreme Court judgment.
The court was disposing a case where a youth was charged by police only for outraging the modesty of a minor girl and was convicted by a lower court for rape and sentenced to 10 years in jail.
On appeal, Justice Mittal found him guilty only of outraging the modesty and reduced his sentence to two years, which he had already served and hence freed him.
The judge slammed the trial court judge for "getting carried away".
"The sessions judge lost sight of the basic principles of criminal jurisprudence that only legally admissible evidence can be the basis of a conviction. In the absence of credible evidence, the judge should not have allowed himself to be swayed by exaggerated statements made by the child victim and other witnesses," Justice Mittal said.
The HC referred to how poorly the legal aid lawyer given by the trial court defended the convict.
The accused could not afford a private lawyer.
"This case also brings into the limelight the need to have an experienced counsel on the panel of legal aid," the court observed.