DATE OF JUDGEMENT:
December 1, 2021
Justices MR Shah and Sanjiv Khanna
State of Madhya Pradesh(Respondent)
The judgment related to a case where the rape accused objected to his conviction on the grounds that the conviction was based solely on the testimony of the prosecutrix and no other witness had been examined to support the prosecutrix's testimony. The Supreme Court held that if the prosecutrix is found to be trustworthy, unblemished, credible and the evidence given by her is of sterling quality, then such testimony can be the sole ground for conviction.
- The rape accused was convicted by the Sessions Court under Section 376 of IPC and was sentenced to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 500. The accused then appealed before the Madhya Pradesh High Court and the appeal was subsequently dismissed.
- The rape accused then approached the Supreme Court raising the objection that his conviction was based solely on testimony of the prosecutrix.
- Furthermore, the accused pleaded that the medical evidence did not support the prosecution's case and that no other witness had been examined or had supported the testimony of the prosecutrix. The accused also pleaded the Court to reduce the sentence of imprisonment.
- The respondent contended that the accused was rightly convicted by the Sessions Court as there was no reason to doubt the credibility of the prosecutrix.
- The counsel for the respondent further pointed out that on one hand the accused took the plea of alibi and on the other hand he pleaded that it was a case of consent. Thus, the pleas taken by the accused were contradictory.
Indian Penal Code
- Section 376: — (1) Whoever, except in the cases provided for in sub-section (2),
commits rape, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment of either description for a term which shallnot be less than ten years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
- Whether the testimony of the prosecutrix can be sole basis of conviction?
- The Supreme Court observed that the prosecutrix had been supporting the case of the prosecution from the beginning and had remained consistent throughout the proceedings. Even after cross examination, no inconsistency was found in the testimony of the prosecutrix.
- The Court, while relying on the judgment of Ganesan v. State, [(2020) 10 SCC 573], held that where the prosecutrix is found to be trustworthy, unblemished, credible and the evidence given by her is of sterling quality, then in such a case the accused can be convicted solely on the basis of the prosecutrix's testimony.
- Further, the Court while relying on the case of State (NCT of Delhi) v. Pankaj Chaudhary, (2019) 11 SCC 575, held that the testimony of the prosecutrix cannot be doubted merely on the basis of surmises and assumptions.
- The Court also referred to the case of Sham Singh v. State of Haryana, (2018) 18 SCC 34, and stated that Courts must not hesitate in relying upon the victim's testimony as the sole evidence for convicting the accused unless there are compelled reasons to look for corroborative evidence.
- To the accused's plea for reducing the sentence, the Court stated that the accused had been treated lightly by sentencing him to only 7 years of rigorous imprisonment. Thus, the Court held that the conviction must be sustained.
The Court rightly observed that the accused's submissions had no substance. Since the accused was taking contradictory pleas, it was clear that he was trying to evade justice. On the other hand, the prosecutrix had been consistent in her statements and hence provided reliable evidence.
The Courts, in numerous cases, have held that the sole testimony of the prosecutrix can certainly be relied upon for convicting the offense provided that the testimony was found to be credible and consistent. Even if there were certain minor or insignificant discrepancies, it does not render the testimony unreliable as such discrepancies are not fatal to the case. Where the testimony inspired confidence, the Courts must certainly rely upon it.
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