Conviction on solitary Testimony of Prosecutrix not sustainable

A Single Judge of Allahabad High Court Justice Suresh Kumar Gupta, has allowed a Criminal Appeal No. 414 of 1991 (Santosh and Another vs State) filed by a convict, who was sentenced under section 376 IPC for 10 years rigorous imprisonment and under Section 366 IPC for 7 years rigorous imprisonment. 

Prosecutrix, Ranno Devi lodged a FIR on 28.9.1987 at 11:30 a.m. against the Appellants with allegations that one month prior to the FIR when the complainant was going to her paternal home to in-laws house along with her husband, due to being late from his parental house it was too dark for him to reach at Jasrana. She stayed at the Garden outside of Jasrana bus stand. Victim went to the grooves due to urination where victim was overpowered by three accused persons namely, Baghwan Das, Santosh Badhai and Jogendar Lodha had committed gang rape upon her one by one. When the victim became unconscious, all the accused persons took her away to Aligarh and detained the victim at Aligarh hotel upto 26.9.1987 for about one month and she came back to his mother house at Vangaon District Etah after getting opportunity. It was also alleged in the FIR that the accused persons also took her payal, kardhani and kundal. When the victim had an opportunity to escape from the custody of the accused after a lapse of one month, victim was returned back to her parental house at Etah and wrote report Exhibit Ka 1 typed by victim and submitted the written report to S.S.P. Etah and under direction of S.S.P. Etah chik FIR Exhibit Ka-8 was registered against the appellants under Sections 392, 366 and 376 IPC at P.S. Jasrana.

During the Trial the victim-Ranno Devi, Om Prakash who reported to be the brother in law and eye-witness, the Investigating Officer Khem Singh, Doctor Vimla Sharma ,Doctor S.C. Dubey and constable Tahir Singh who proved the FIR, were produced as witnesses.

After hearing both the parties learned Sessions Judge convicted the appellants under Sections 366, 376 IPC and exonerated the appellants under Sections 392 IPC. Being aggrieved with the order of the trial court, an appeal was filed by the Appellants before the High Court.

Contention of Appellant:

  1. No time and date has been mentioned in the first information report and the FIR lodged against the appellants is after one month of the incident.
  2. Prosecution has failed to establish the prosecution story and version of the prosecution is not supported with documentary evidence.
  3. There are material contradictions in the statement of the victim.
  4. There is no injury on private parts to show force.
  5. The Conviction of the Appellants was only on the basis of sole testimony of the Prosecutrix.

Contention of State:

  1. Absence of injuries on private parts cannot be ground to hold that the appellants cannot be convicted.
  2. As per Section 114 of Evidence Act, “where sexual intercourse by the accused/appellant is proved and the question is whether it was without the consent of the woman-victim alleged to have been raped and she states in her evidence before the Court that she did not consent, the Court shall presume that she did not consent,” so there is irrebuttal presumption against the appellants.

Findings of Court:

  1. The Evidence Act nowhere says that the victim’s evidence cannot be accepted unless it is corroborated in material particulars. The victim is undoubtedly a competent witness under Section 118 of Indian Evidence Act and her evidence must receive the same weight as attached to an injured witness in case of physical violence.
  2. The same degree of care and caution must attached in the evaluation of her evidence as in the case of an injured complainant or witness what is necessary that the Court must be alive to and conscious of the fact that it is dealing with the evidence of a person who is interested in the outcome of charge levelled by her.If for some reason, the Court is hesitant to place implicit reliance on the testimony of the prosecutrix, it may look for evidence which may lend assurance to her testimony short of corroboration required in the case of an accomplice.
  3. This Court is quite conscious of the legal position that normally the Courts should not discard the version of prosecutrix because she did not gain anything in putting her own honour. Stake by false implication of appellants but at the some time, the Courts should also bear in minds that in changed values of our society, false charges of rape also cannot be ruled out.
  4. There have also been rare instances where a parent has persuaded a gullible or obedient daughter to make a false charge of rape either to take revenge or extort money or to get rid of financial liability. Whether there was rape or not would depend ultimately on the facts and circumstances of each case 
  5. The complete testimony of the victim being unworthy of credence, unreliable and a bundle of lies could not have formed the basis for the conviction of the appellants, on the basis of illegal and inadmissible evidence.
  6. Therefore in the facts and circumstances of the case, the conviction of the accused on the basis of solitary testimony of the prosecutrix, is not sustainable for the reasons discussed above.

Operative portion

The impugned judgement and order of conviction and sentence passed by learned trial court is, hereby, quashed and set aside. The accused appellants are acquitted of the charges levelled against them.

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