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Victim’s testimony can solely be a ground for conviction of the accused- SC

In the case of Ganesan v. State Represented by its Inspector of Police (CRIMINAL APPEAL No.  680   of 2020), the Supreme Court had held that the accused can be convicted based on the sole testimony of the victim if it is reliable and trustworthy.

 The facts of the case are that the appellant herein is the original accused and was tried by the learned Fast Track Mahila Court, Dharmapuri for the offenses punishable under Section 7 read with Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (hereinafter referred to as the “POCSO Act”).  That relying upon the deposition of PW3, who was the victim herself,  was studying in 5th standard and aged 13 years, convicted the accused of the offense under Section 7 of the POCSO Act and sentenced him to undergo three years rigorous imprisonment, which is the minimum sentence provided under Section 8 of the POCSO Act. Aggrieved by the judgment of the trial court, out of dissatisfaction, the accused had preferred an appeal before the High Court. It was therefore submitted on behalf of the accused that he is unable to pay the compensation of rupees one lakh to the victim girl and pleaded leniency and requested to set aside the order of compensation awarded by the learned trial Court.

Understanding the situation the High Court had modified the judgment and order passed by the learned trial Court with respect to compensation only and modified the said order to the effect that compensation amount shall be paid by the State to the victim girl and thereafter if the State finds that the accused has got sufficient means, the same can be recovered from the accused under the Revenue Recovery Act. Following the same, the High Court had dismissed the appeal so far as the conviction and imposition of a sentence of three years rigorous imprisonment is concerned.

Again feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied by the High Court judgment, the appeal was filed subsequently to the supreme court.

The court, in this case, had held that “On evaluating the deposition of  PW3   –  victim on the touchstone of the law laid down by this Court in the aforesaid decisions, we are of the opinion that the sole testimony of the PW3 – the victim is absolutely trustworthy and unblemished and her evidence is of sterling quality.”

“Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the case, the learned trial Court has not committed any error in convicting the accused, relying upon the deposition of PW3 – victim.   The learned trial Court has imposed the minimum sentence provided under Section 8 of the POCSO Act. Therefore, the learned trial Court has already shown the leniency.   At this stage, it is required to be noted that allegations against the accused which are proved from the deposition of PW3 are very serious, which cannot be permitted in a civilized society.     Therefore,

Considering the object and purpose of the POCSO   Act and considering the evidence on record, the High Court has rightly convicted the accused for the offense under Section 7 of the POCSO Act and has rightly sentenced the accused to undergo three years R.I. which is the minimum sentence provided under Section 8 of the POCSO Act.

It had also been held that “Now so far as the amount of compensation awarded by the learned trial Court is concerned, the High Court has modified the same and has directed the State to pay the compensation to the victim and thereafter to recover the same from the accused under the provisions of the land revenue if it finds that the accused has sufficient means.  It is the case on behalf of the accused that the accused is very poor and has no property.  If that be so, he is not to worry.”

“  The aforesaid has been taken care by the High Court by modifying the judgment and order passed by the learned trial Court. Now so far as the reliance placed upon the decision of this Court in the case of Vinod Kumar (supra) and the reliance placed upon Order 41 Rule 31 CPC is concerned, as we ourselves have heard the appeal on merits and considering the fact that out of three years R.I., the appellant has already undergone two years and three months (approximately), the said decision shall not be of any assistance to the accused.

 In view of the above and for the reasons given above, the present appeal deserves to be dismissed and is accordingly dismissed.”

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