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Section 376 CRPC- Conviction can be Sustained on the Sole Testimony of the Victim if it inspires Confidence: Supreme Court of India.

A conviction can be based on the sole testimony of the victim/prosecutrix when the deposition of the prosecutrix is found to be trustworthy, unblemished, credible and her evidence is of sterling quality, and the same was observed by Hon’ble Mukeshkumar Rasikbhai Shah, J in the matter of Phool Singh vs. The State of Madhya Pradesh [Criminal Appeal No. 1520 of 202].

The facts of the case is that on the intervening night of 9th August 1999, when the victim/prosecutrix was alone and sleeping in her room, the accused had jumped the wall and entered into the room of the prosecutrix, where he had committed rape and then fled away. Thereafter, the prosecutrix lodged an FIR on 12.08.1999 and after completion of the investigation, a charge-sheet was filed against the accused for the offence punishable under Section 376 IPC. Accused pleaded not guilty and therefore he came to be tried for the aforesaid offence. After appreciating the evidence on record, by judgment and order dated 31.07.2000, the learned trial Court convicted the accused for the offence under Section 376 IPC. Feeling aggrieved with the judgment and order of conviction and sentence passed by the learned trial Court, the appellant herein-accused preferred an appeal before the High Court, which was also rejected. Thereafter, the appellant filed an appeal in the Supreme Court of India.

The learned Advocate appearing on behalf of the accused argued that in the present case that the medical evidence did not support the case of the prosecutrix, and therefore, the prosecution case rested solely on the deposition of the prosecutrix. The counsel had also argued that there was also a delay in lodging the FIR, since the incident took place on 9.8.1999 and the FIR was lodged on 12.08.1999, i.e., after a period of three days. It was put forth by the counsel that the story of the prosecution did not find any corroboration from medical evidence and in the absence of any signs of injuries, it could not be ruled out that the physical intercourse even if assumed it had happened, could’ve been consensual.

The learned Advocate General appearing on behalf of the respondent-state, argued that the learned trial Court as well as the High Court have rightly convicted the accused for the offence under Section 376 IPC, relying upon the sole testimony of the prosecutrix/victim. It was submitted that there is no reason to doubt the credibility and trustworthiness of the prosecutrix, and that once it is found that the prosecutrix is reliable and trustworthy, in that case, there can be a conviction for the offence of rape – Section 376 IPC, relying upon the deposition of the sole witness/victim.

Supreme court after perusing the facts and arguments presented, held that – “Applying the law laid down by this Court in its earlier decisions to the facts of the case on hand and as observed hereinabove, we see no reason to doubt the credibility and/or trustworthiness of the prosecutrix. She has been consistent right from the very beginning. Nothing has been specifically pointed out as to why the sole testimony of the prosecutrix should not be believed. Even after thorough cross-examination, she has stood by what she has stated and has fully supported the case of the prosecution. She is found to be reliable and trustworthy. Therefore, without any further corroboration, the conviction of the accused relying upon the sole testimony of the prosecutrix can be sustained. Now so far as the submission on behalf of the accused that as there were no external or internal injuries found on the body of the prosecutrix and therefore it may be that a case of consent is concerned, the aforesaid has no substance at all.” Having regard to the aforesaid, the court hereby confirmed the conviction and sentence awarded to the accused-appellant herein for the offence under Section 376 IPC.

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Judgement reviewed by – Mehvish Alam

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