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In case prosecution is based on wholly unreliable testimony of a single witness, the court has no option than to acquit the accused : Madhya Pradesh High Court

The Madhya Pradesh High Court in the case of Deepak Patidar vs The State Of Madhya Pradesh (CRIMINAL APPEAL No. 1647 of 2019) upheld that in case prosecution is based on wholly unreliable testimony of a single witness, the court has no option than to acquit the accused.

Facts of the case: Prosecutrix and appellant both were residents of Village. On 13.10.2013, when prosecutrix was grazing her cattle in the field of Gangaram Patidar, appellant having seen prosecutrix alone, came there and took her forcibly in a nearby room situated in the field. Prosecutrix tried to resist him and raised the alarm, then he hit her head against the wall of the room and assaulted her. Thereafter, he forcibly committed sexual intercourse with her and threatened her, if she discloses the incident to anyone, he will kill her. Prosecutrix returned to home and narrated the incident to her elder sister-in-law Ramkunwarbai as well as her husband, and thereafter, on the same day she lodged the FIR against the appellant at Police Station.

Learned trial Court considering the material prima-facie available on record framed charges u/S 376, 342 323 and 506 of IPC against the appellant who abjured guilt and prayed for trial. In the statements recorded under Section 313 of Cr.P.C., he took a defense that prosecutor’s cattle used to damage his crops about which a quarrel took place between him and prosecutrix’s family, due to which he had been falsely implicated in this case.

Judgment: Prosecutrix in her statement recorded during trial reiterated aforesaid facts that her elder sister-in-law Ramkunwarbai was also grazing her cattle near the place of occurrence but nowhere stated any reason as to why she did not inform her elder sister-in-law about the incident who was present at that time near the place of occurrence. Prosecutrix deposed that appellant after taking her to nearby room, assaulted her and hit her head against the wall of the room but Dr. Meena Verma deposed that during medical examination, no external or internal injury was found all over her body.

Inconsistency in the statement of prosecutrix about the presence of her elder sister-in-law near the place of incident and also about the time when she informed her about the incident, made her statements more doubtful. In such circumstances, prosecutor’s statements cannot be said to be wholly reliable, therefore, the same cannot be relied upon without any corroborative evidence and only on the basis of her statement, it is not safe to held the appellant guilty for the offences alleged against him.

The conviction can be based on the sole testimony of the prosecutrix, if found to be worthy of credence and reliable and for that no corroboration is required. It has often been said that oral testimony can be classified into three categories, namely (i) wholly reliable, (ii) wholly unreliable and (iii) neither wholly reliable nor wholly unreliable. In case of wholly reliable testimony of a single witness, the conviction can be founded without corroboration. This principle applies with greater vigour in case the nature of offense is such that it is committed in seclusion. In case prosecution is based on wholly unreliable testimony of a single witness, the court has no option than to acquit the accused. Prosecution had failed to prove the guilt against appellant beyond reasonable doubt. Hence, conviction of the appellant could not be upheld and the appeal filed by the appellant was allowed.

JUDGMENT REVIEWED BY : SHUBHANGI CHAUDHARY

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