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Sterling quality of evidence is required to rely upon the sole testimony: Bombay High Court

In rape cases, the sole testimony of the victim is enough to prove the conviction of the accused, only if the proof is strong enough to prove the allegations against the accused. Bombay High Court bench by Justice Pushpa D. Ganediwala gave the judgment stating the above-cited reasons in the case of Suraj vs. State of Maharashtra [Criminal Appeal no. 115 of 2020.

In the instant case, the prosecutrix had made allegations against the appellant for raping her. Prosecutrix stated that she was 15 years old at the time of the incident and the accused forcefully trespassed into her house and raped her. It was observed that the prosecutrix’s mother saw the accused running out of their house. Upon the allegations, the Trial court had held the accused of the offence u/s 376(1) and 451 of the IPC and under POCSO Act to sentencing for rigorous imprisonment for 10 years and to pay a fine of Rs. 10,000/-. During the investigation, police took the statements of the witnesses and the medical examination of the prosecutrix was also done to find out whether the rape was committed or not.

However, the appellant refused all the charges against him and stated that the false allegations were made against him. It was found that the prosecutrix had no proof to prove that she was below 18 years of age. During the arguments, it was found out that the prosecutrix was above 18 years of age and she had agreed to the sexual intercourse with the appellant. And because her mother had seen the appellant running out of her house, the prosecutrix had to explain the incident and that’s when they decided to report the incident and go to the police. During the investigation, the prosecutrix agreed to the fact that she wouldn’t have reported the incident if her mother wouldn’t have asked her to.

In the medical examination of the girl, it was found out that she was habitual to sexual intercourse and there were no signs of physical harm on her body because of the forceful intercourse. However, the prosecutrix’s counsel argued that she had no reason to make false allegations against the accused and whatever she told was true and the sole testimony of the prosecutrix is worthy of reliance.

The Court found out that the prosecutrix herself in her cross-objection admitted that at the relevant time her age was 18 years and she gave her age 15 years in the FIR on the say of her mother.

High Court contended that if it had been a case of forcible intercourse, there would have been a scuffle between the parties. In the medical report, no injuries of a scuffle could be seen. The defence of consensual physical relations appeared probable.

While giving the judgment, the HC bench stated that “stricter the sentence, stricter the proof is required. No doubt, sole testimony of the prosecutrix in rape cases is sufficient to fix the criminal liability against the appellant, however, in the instant case, considering the sub-standard quality of testimony of the prosecutrix, it would be a grave injustice to send the appellant behind the bar for 10 years”.

Hence, while referring to the judgment in the case of Santosh Prasad vs. State of Bihar, High Court stated that if the conviction is to be recorded solely on the testimony of the prosecutrix “sterling quality of evidence” is required. And in the present case, the prosecutrix failed to give appropriate proofs to fix the criminal liability of rape against the appellant by criminal trespassing in the house of the prosecutrix. And therefore, HC decided to acquit the accused and to set aside all the charges against the accused under IPC and POCSO Act.

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Judgement reviewed by-Sarita Kumari

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