Read Judgment: State of Madhya Pradesh vs. Mahendra Alias Golu

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, October 26, 2021: The Supreme Court has ruled that that sexual intercourse with a woman below sixteen years, with or without her consent, amounted to ‘Rape’ and mere penetration was sufficient to prove such offence. 

The expression ‘penetration’ denotes ingress of male organ into the female parts, however slight it may be, added the Court.

A Division Bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli observed that in order to find an accused guilty of an attempt with intent to commit rape, court has to be satisfied that the accused, when he laid hold of the prosecutrix, not only desired to gratify his passions upon her person, but that he intended to do so at all events, and notwithstanding any resistance on her part. 

Indecent assaults are often magnified into attempts at rape and in order to come to a conclusion that the conduct of the accused was indicative of a determination to gratify his passion at all events, and in spite of all resistance, materials must exist, added the Bench.

The observation came pursuant to appeal filed by State of Madhya Pradesh (appellant) against the judgment passed by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh (Jabalpur Bench) whereby the conviction of Mahendra (respondent) u/s 376(2)(f) r/w/s 511 of IPC had been set aside and instead he had been held guilty u/s 354 of IPC and consequently his sentence was reduced from 5 years to 2 years rigorous imprisonment. 

The background of the case was that an FIR came to be registered by the parents of two minor victims (aged 8 & 9 years),who were molested by the respondent and he attempted to rape them. The FIR was registered after a delay of 15 days as the victims were not prompt in disclosing the incident to their parents. 

The Trial Court convicted the respondent for the offence u/s 376(2)(f) r/w/s 511 of IPC though acquitted him u/s 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The respondent was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment of 5 years and fine of Rs.5000.

On appeal, the Principal Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court modified the judgment of the Trial Court and set aside the conviction u/s 376(2)(f) r/w/s 511 IPC and convicted the respondent u/s 354 of IPC and sentenced him to undergo 2 years of rigorous imprisonment and fine of Rs. 5000. 

After considering the evidence and arguments, the Top Court observed that there is a visible distinction between ‘preparation’ and ‘attempt’ to commit an offence and it all depends on the statutory edict coupled with the nature of evidence produced in a case. 

The stage of ‘preparation’ consists of deliberation, devising or arranging the means or measures, which would be necessary for the commission of the offence. Whereas, an ‘attempt’ to commit the offence, starts immediately after the completion of preparation. ‘Attempt’ is the execution of mens rea after preparation. ‘Attempt’ starts where ‘preparation’ comes to an end, though it falls short of actual commission of the crime”, added the Court. 

The Apex Court opined that the act of the respondent of luring the minor girls, taking them inside the room, closing the doors and taking the victims to a room with the motive of carnal knowledge, was the end of ‘preparation’ to commit the offence. 

His following action of stripping the prosecutrices and himself, and rubbing his genitals against those of the victims was indeed an endeavour to commit sexual intercourse, added the Court. 

The Apex Court noted that the acts of the respondent were deliberately done with manifest intention to commit the offence aimed and were reasonably proximate to the consummation of the offence. 

Since the acts of the respondent exceeded the stage beyond preparation and preceded the actual penetration, the Trial Court rightly held him guilty of attempting to commit rape as punishable within the ambit and scope of Section 511 read with Section 375 of IPC as it stood in force at the time of occurrence, concluded the Top Court.

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