Rani v The State

  • At 7 months pregnant, Mst Rani lodged an F.I.R alleging Faqiro, aided and abetted by Rehmat raped her at knife point, which subsequently resulted in her pregnancy.
  • Upon arrest under the 1979 Zina Ordinance, alongside other involving members, both of the accused were acquitted by the learned judge on lack of supporting evidence and “inordinate delay in lodging the F.I.R.” (Muhammad, 319: 6). Mst Rani was convicted under section 10 (2) of the Zina Ordinance on the basis that her pregnancy was a sufficient ground of evidence.
  • This was an appeal to decide if the  charge had been correctly decided.

Legal reasoning

1.Whether pregnancy alone is sufficient to convict a woman of Zina, especially when she claims the pregnancy to be the consequence of rape, by men  acquitted due to an  insufficiency of evidence. 

(i)“mere pregnancy is not sufficient to convict a woman for Zina especially where she claims the pregnancy to have been caused due to her rape/ Zina- bil- Jabrby man/ men who later stand acquitted on any ground” (Muhammad, 324: 15i)

(ii)“mere proof of pregnancy or some form of medical/ testimony on its own could be of no consequence as the latter would at best only serve to be corroborative in nature” (Muhammad, 324: 15iii)

Once an explanation is sought by the woman accused, to explain her inlawful pregnancy or illegitimate birth of a child from her, and her explanation that the same was a result of rape committed on her by the male accused is found to be implausible, that implausibility in the explanation alone is not sufficient to convict her for Zina” (Muhammad, 325: 18).

2. Whether Mst Rani can be convicted alone of a joint offence or can she be released through the benefit of doubt? 

(ii)“to convict a woman for Zina, the prosecution would have to discharge the heavy onus of proof by bringing forth positive and independent evidence that the woman actually and in fact had committed Zina with her own free will and consent with another man to whom she was not lawfully married to…” (Muhammad, 324: 15ii).

(iii)“In the situation as envisaged in (i) above the woman like any other accused is entitled to a benefit of doubt” (Muhammad, 324: 15iii).

The inordinate delay in lodging the F.I.R. could only be vital in relation to the case of the accused man, however, the same could be of no consequence as regards the guilt of the female accused in this context…. Since the prosecution has not been able to bring forth any positive concrete evidence, other than the medical testimony, that the appellant actually committed the Zina with another man to whom she was not lawfully married to, the prosecution has miserably failed to discharge the heavy onus of proof placed on it, which would also entitle the appellant to a benefit of doubt. I accordingly set aside the judgement of the trial Court in relation to the appellant and grant her a verdict of acquittal” (Muhammad, 324, 16).

Conclusion

Alongside Faqiro and Rehmat, Rani was also acquitted of the conviction under the Zina Ordinance as she could not be solely charged of a joint offence due to her pregnancy and a lack of evidence entitled her to benefit of doubt.

Click here to download the full version of Zina, Rape and Pregnancy- Rani v The State

 

 

 

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