State of Bihar v. Arvind Kumar

The Cyber Blog IndiaCase Summary

Commutation of death sentence in a case involving the rape of a minor and recording of the act

State of Bihar v. Arvind Kumar
In the High Court of Patna
Death Reference 3/2021 and Crl. App. (DB) 218, 285/2021
Before Justice Ashwani K. Singh and Justice Rajeev R. Prasad
Decided on October 19, 2022

Relevancy of the Case: Commutation of death sentence in a case involving the rape of a minor and recording of the act

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 120, 354D, 376(DB), 504, 506)
  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (Section 4, 6, 12, 16)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The victim is a class five student who was repeatedly raped by her school principal. The school principal is the petitioner in this case.
  • The petitioner blackmailed the victim by recording her video and threatening her to show it to everyone. He also used a knife to threaten the victim.
  • One of the teachers in the school is the petitioner in Crl. App. (DB) 285/2021. He would bring the victim to the principal’s office under the pretext of handwriting check. He would guard the doors while the acts took place.
  • The complainant is the victim’s mother. She found out when the victim got pregnant and missed her period.

Prominent Arguments by the Advocates

  • The petitioner’s counsel argued that the teacher did not indulge in any penetrative sexual act. Hence, the trial court erred in convicting him under Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences, 2012. The only eyewitness to the case was the victim herself. Moreover, the victim’s age was not less than 12 years.
  • The respondent’s counsel submitted that the prosecution had proved the victim’s age to be 11 years by adducing oral evidence and producing her birth certificates.

Opinion of the Bench

  • It is difficult to conclusively prove that there was a pre-concert of minds between the principal and the teacher in furtherance of the common object to rape the victim.
  • In her testimony, the victim referred to a single instance when the teacher had asked her to go to the principal’s office. This is in line with the teacher’s submission, where he stated that he was not aware of the rape.
  • There is conflicting evidence on record as to the victim’s age. As such, the benefit of the doubt must go to the first accused, the principal.
  • However, the trial court’s gaming of rape charges is sound and reasonable.

Final Decision

  • The bench modified the petitioner’s sentence to life imprisonment and a fine of ₹1 lakh for the offence under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. He was to serve a rigorous imprisonment for 2 years under Section 506.

Upama Nandy, an undergraduate student at Symbiosis Law School, Pune, prepared this case summary during her internship with The Cyber Blog India in January/February 2023.