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Indian Case Summary

Tuka Ram And Anr vs State Of Maharashtra on 15 September, 1978 – Case Summary

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In the case of Tuka Ram And Anr vs State Of Maharashtra on 15 September, 1978, the Supreme Court of India was confronted with a case that revolved around the interpretation of consent in the context of rape under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code.

Facts of the Case

The case involved two appellants, Tuka Ram, a Police Head Constable, and Ganpat, a Police Constable, both attached to the Desai Gunj Police Station. The prosecution alleged that the appellants raped Mathura, a young girl who had lost her parents and was living with her brother, Gama. Mathura and Gama worked as laborers, and Mathura had developed an intimate relationship with Ashok, the sister’s son of Nunshi, a woman she worked for.

On 26th March 1972, Gama lodged a report at the police station alleging that Mathura had been kidnapped by Nunshi, her husband Laxman, and Ashok. The report was recorded by Head Constable Baburao, who brought all the accused and Mathura to the police station. After recording their statements, Baburao asked everyone to leave, but the appellants asked Mathura to stay behind. The prosecution alleged that Ganpat then took Mathura into a latrine, raped her, and then dragged her to a Chhapri on the backside and raped her again. Tuka Ram was accused of fondling her private parts but could not rape her due to his highly intoxicated state.

Issues Raised

The key issues raised in the case were:

  1. The nature of the consent given by Mathura to the alleged act of sexual intercourse.
  2. The validity of the High Court’s reasoning that Mathura’s submission to the sexual act was due to fear and therefore did not amount to consent.
  3. The onus of the prosecution to prove all the ingredients of the offense under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code.

Court’s Observations

The Supreme Court observed that the onus was always on the prosecution to prove affirmatively each ingredient of the offense. It was therefore incumbent on the prosecution to prove all the ingredients of Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. The High Court had not given a finding that the consent of the girl was obtained by putting her in a state of fear of death or of hurt. Therefore, the third clause of section 375 would not apply. There could be no fear because the girl was taken away by Ganpat right from amongst her near and dear ones. The circumstantial evidence available was not only capable of being construed in a way different from that adopted by the High Court but actually derogates in no uncertain measure from the inference drawn by it.

The Supreme Court also observed that the intercourse in question was not proved to amount to rape and that no offense was brought home to appellant Ganpat. As far as Tuka Ram was concerned, the girl had made serious allegations against Tuka Ram in the First Information Report. She went back on these allegations at the Trial. The presence of Tuka Ram at the police station is not inculpatory and is capable of more explanations than one.

Conclusion

The Supreme Court allowed the appeal, holding that the prosecution had failed to prove all the ingredients of the offense under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. The Court acquitted the appellants, Tuka Ram and Ganpat, reversing the decision of the High Court which had convicted them. The case highlighted the importance of the prosecution’s burden to prove all elements of an offense and the interpretation of consent in the context of rape.