In a major relief to former Haryana Minister Gopal Goyal Kanda and his former employee Aruna Chadha in the 2012 air hostess suicide case, the Delhi High Court on Thursday quashed the framing of charges of rape and carnal intercourse against Kanda and for abetting him to commit the two offences against Chadha.
However, the two will face trial for entering into a criminal conspiracy to abet the air hostess to commit suicide and other offences under the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act.
Though the Delhi Police had neither charge-sheeted Kanda nor Chadha for the two offences, the Additional Sessions Judge dealing with the case had framed the two charges against them on the basis of the post-mortem report, the statement of the doctor who had helped the air hostess abort unwanted pregnancies and the supplementary disclosure statement of Chadha, where she had admitted that Kanda had illicit relationship with the air hostess.
However, Justice G.P. Mittal quashed the two charges against Kanda and Chadha saying that “… There is not even a shred of evidence to indicate that co-accused Gopal Goyal Kanda committed sexual intercourse with deceased ‘X’ or had carnal intercourse against the order of nature with her or that the same was against her [the deceased] will or without her consent or that the petitioner [Chadha] facilitated in any act of rape or unnatural offence alleged to have been committed by Gopal Goyal Kanda.”
“It is apparent that the learned ASJ unjustly admitted into evidence the confessional statement made by the petitioner and illegally put the burden to prove the same on the co-accused and the petitioner which is not permissible. The learned ASJ fell into gross error in framing the charge under Sections 376 [rape] or 377 [unnatural sex] against the co-accused Gopal Goyal Kanda which cannot be sustained. Since no charge against co-accused under these sections could have been framed, the petitioner could not have been guilty of abetting these offences,” Justice Mittal stated.
However, he upheld the framing of charges of abetment to commit suicide, criminal conspiracy and other charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act against them.
“This evidence… was sufficient to form an opinion at this stage that the petitioner [Chadha] abetted the commission of suicide by the deceased. A charge for the offence punishable under Section 306 IPC was, therefore, made out against the petitioner even without the allegations of abetment of rape or sexual exploitation. The circumstances relied upon by the prosecution and the evidence collected also show conspiracy to commit these offences by the accused persons.”
The air hostess had committed suicide on the intervening night of August 4 and 5 at her residence in Ashok Vihar in North-West Delhi last year.