Writ Petition (C) No. 304 of 2004. Case: Meinam Ongbi Bina Devi Vs The State of Manipur.

Case Number:Writ Petition (C) No. 304 of 2004
Party Name:Meinam Ongbi Bina Devi Vs The State of Manipur
Counsel:For Appellant: Ch. Ngongo, Advocate and For Respondents: S. Rupachandra, ASG
Judges:N. Kotiswar Singh, J.
Issue:Arms Act 1959 - Section 27; Army Act, 1950 - Sections 3, 3(i), 69, 70; Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) - Sections 357-A, 357-B; Constitution of India - Articles 20, 21; Indian Penal Code 1860, (IPC) - Section 376
Judgement Date:December 15, 2014
 
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Judgment:

N. Kotiswar Singh, J., (At Imphal)

1. Heard Mr. Ch. Ngongo, learned counsel for the petitioner and Mr. S. Rupachandra, learned Asstt. Solicitor General for the respondents.

2. The present writ petition has been filed seeking for a direction for payment of compensation of 10(ten) lakhs on account of the petitioner being raped by a personnel of the 12 Assam Rifles at Mantripukhri on 6.10.2001.

3. Facts of the case in brief, as narrated by the petitioner, are that while the petitioner was inside her small hut along with her husband, preparing the evening meal, at around 7.00 pm, they heard the sound of a gun shot. Being apprehensive of trouble, both the petitioner and her husband remained inside the hut, which is located adjacent to the western compound wall of 12 Assam Rifles at Mantripukhri. All of a sudden, while they were inside, an armed personnel of the Assam Rifles in civilian dress (the Respondent no. 5 herein) banged upon their door and forcibly entered the house. He caught hold of the hand of the petitioner and dragged her out. When her husband tried to resist the said forcible act, he was hit by the rifle butt by the petitioner. When the sister-in-law of the petitioner, who also stays nearby, rushed to help her, she was also hit by the said personnel. Thereafter, the petitioner was dragged into a bush near a pond where the Respondent no. 5 committed rape on her. While he was perpetrating the crime, some other personnel of the Assam Rifle jumped across the wall shouting "Ram Singh" "Ram Singh" and the said personnel was caught red-handed by the other personnel and taken away.

The next day, the petitioner's husband filed a complaint under section 376 IPC and 27 Arms Act before the Heingang Police Station regarding the said incident. After lodging of the FIR, the respondent no. 5 was arrested by the police from the campus of 12 Assam Rifles Battalion and was produced before the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal on 8.10.2001 who was remanded to police custody for four days and was thereafter remanded to judicial custody by the Court.

The petitioner further stated that on 30.10.2001, one Captain K. Rama Krishnan of 25th Assam Rifles I.C. No. 52928-Y filed a Criminal Misc. Application, which was registered as Cril. Misc. Case No. 100 of 2001 before the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Imphal praying for custody of the accused under the provisions of the Army Act, 1950 along with relevant case file and documents for proceeding in a Court Martial under Army Act. After considering the matter, the learned CJM vide order dated 30.10.2001 handed over the accused person along with the relevant case file and documents to the Assam Rifles.

It has been stated that after completing summary evidences and other procedure for the Court Martial under Army Act, a Summary General Court Martial (hereinafter referred to SGCM) was ordered against the accused which was conducted at 20th Assam Rifles Somrai, Ukhrul in which both the petitioner and her husband gave their evidences.

The petitioner further stated that a press release of PIB Defence Wing was issued on 2nd November, 2003, in the local dailies, in which it was confirmed that the accused, the Respondent no. 5 was found guilty of rape and was convicted by the SGCM and was sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment.

4. On the basis of such conviction, the present writ petition has been filed seeking for damages for violating the modesty of the petitioner as well as her right to life as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India by the Respondent no. 5 and claiming an amount of Rs. 10 lakhs as compensation against the respondents.

5. The respondents have filed their respective affidavits-in-opposition resisting the writ petition. In the affidavit-in-opposition filed on behalf of the Assam Rifles respondent Nos. 2 to 4, it has been admitted that one rifleman/General Duty, Ram Singh Rawant (No. 2501528Y) (the Respondent no. 5) committed the offence of rape and he was convicted by the SGCM and accordingly sentenced to 7 years of imprisonment along with dismissal from service. It has been also stated that the respondent No. 5 died at District Jail, Dhemaji (Assam) on 29.6.2004 while serving out his sentence.

It has, however, been contended that Article 20 of the Constitution of India enjoins that no person shall be persecuted and punished for the same offence more than once and since the respondent No. 5 had been already sentenced to imprisonment and dismissed from service, no further action would lie in respect of the offence committed by him.

It has been also contended that vicarious liability flows from an act or omission on the part of the employee committed in exercise of performance of duties for his employer. Therefore, unless an act or omission had taken place during the course of employment, the employer cannot be held liable for any wrong committed by the employee in his individual capacity. It has been contended that in the present case, the crime was committed by the respondent No. 5 after he had illegally absented from the Unit on the fateful evening and committed the crime for which the Unit or the Union of India cannot be blamed or penalised. Accordingly, it was submitted that no case has been made for award of compensation by the respondents authorities for the crime committed by the respondent No. 5 in his individual capacity.

6. The State respondent also has filed their affidavit-in-opposition and the State of Manipur has taken a similar plea that the rape committed by the respondent No. 5 upon the petitioner was an individual act and not connected with the affairs of the State for which he had been individually penalised by way of imprisonment and dismissal from service. Since the act committed by the respondent No. 5 was not during the course of discharge of his lawful duties for...

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