Accused can be convicted for rape solely on testimony of prosecutrix if it is trustworthy and corroborated by evidence: High Court of Orissa

The testimony of a victim of sex offence is entitled to great weight before the court and therefore the accused person can be convicted for rape solely on the testimony of the victim, given that is trustworthy and well corroborated by medical evidence or other witnesses. This was held in the judgement passed by a single member bench of the High Court of Orissa consisting of Justice S.K. Sahoo in the case of Madhusudan Naik v State of Orissa [JCRLA No. 74 of 2016] on the 15th of July 2021.

As per the prosecution’s case, the victim was attending the call of nature at a Nala near her village Jurapali in Sambalpur. The appellant allegedly came up from behind her and forcibly started committing sexual intercourse with her. Upon hearing the victim screaming, other villagers including the appellant’s brother came rushing towards the scene of crime as the appellant fled from there. On the same day, the victim lodged a First Information Report before the A.S.I. of Garposh and consequently it was filed against the Appellant under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code for the offence of rape. Over the course of investigation, the victim as well as 13 other witnesses were examined and questioned. Additionally a thorough medical examination was also conducted.

The medical examination indicated severe injuries on her neck, waist and right hand. However the appellant’s counsel contended that none of the evidence present was enough to convict the appellant beyond all doubt. The appellant counsel also pointed out a small contradiction that the victim claimed that the appellant ran away as the villagers reached the scene where another witness claimed that the appellant started running away as they started beating him. The High Court however refused to accept this argument and stated that the victim of a rape crime is often the best witness as she is the least likely person to exculpate the real offender. It was also added that her statement corroborated to the medical evidence and witness statement built a very strong case and the tiny irrelevant contradictions were to be ignored.

Justice S.K. Sahoo can be quoted as saying “It is the settled principle of law that an accused can be convicted for an offence of rape basing on the sole testimony of the prosecutrix, if the same is found to be natural and trustworthy and corroborated by the medical evidence and other circumstantial evidence. Even the conviction in the case of sex crime may be based on the sole testimony of the prosecutrix. While trying an accused on the charge of rape, the Court must deal with the case with utmost sensitivity by examining the broader probabilities of the case and it should not be swayed by minor contradictions and discrepancies in appreciation of evidence of the victim which are not of a substantial character.” Accordingly the appeal was dismissed.

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