Delhi HC Holds that Sole Testimony of a Rape Victim Sufficient to Return a Verdict of Conviction  

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Introduction

The Courts have time and again reiterated that sole testimony of a rape victim is sufficient to return a verdict of conviction against the accused. A criminal case rests on the theory that the burden is on the prosecution to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus the burden is on the prosecution to establish charges against the accused, In the present case, the accused basis his appeal against conviction under Section 376 of IPC on the ground of material inconsistency in the testimony of the victim.   

Brief Facts

The appeal arises out of the conviction of the Appellant by Sessions Judge under Section 376 of IPC. The Appellant is sentenced to seven years of imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 75,000/-. 

A report was filed with the Sultan Puri police station against the Appellant at the instance of a woman (hereinafter referred to as “Ms A”). Ms A was raped by the Appellant at her sister’s house. After returning to her house, Ms A upon deliberation with her husband filed a FIR. Ms.A was medically examined and she reported that she was assaulted by the Appellant. The MLC Records indicate that she had injuries on her body. Proper procedure was followed as mandated by law for the investigation of cases registered under Section 376 of IPC. 

Ms A’s statement under Section 164 of the Cr.P.C was recorded. The accused was charged for rape and pleaded not guilty. However, the accused absconded and was declared a proclaimed offender. He was re-arrested on 24.05.2012. The prosecution examined 14 witnesses.   

Appellant’s Arguments

The impugned judgment has been assailed by the Appellant on several grounds. First on the aspect that the timeline of events relied on by the prosecution was improbable. Second that there was material inconsistency between the statements made by Ms A and her husband. Lastly, there was a lady living in the vicinity of the place where the alleged rape had been committed by the Appellant. However, the aunty living so close to the alleged place of rape heard nothing and that it was improbable that no one in the vicinity heard anything.

State’s Arguments

Per contra, it is submitted by the State that there was no material inconsistency between the statements of Ms A and her husband. It was also contended that the guilt of the Appellant has been established by corroboration and coherent evidence. 

Court’s Observation

The Court observed that the case of the prosecution rests completely on the testimony of Ms A. the court observed that the garments worn by Ms A at the time of the incident and immediately thereafter remained same and were available for examination. Minor inconsistencies were observed by the Court in the statement recorded under Section 164 of Ms A. But, none of them was found by the Court to be of material importance to discard the testimony of Ms A. The Court made the following observation regarding the stigma left behind on the victim:

“An allegation by any woman that she has been raped is not without consequences to the woman making such an allegation. Even though she is not at fault and is the victim, she does suffer stigma and ignominy. Thus, unless there are good reasons to believe that a rape victim is making an incorrect accusation, the sole testimony of such a victim has been held to be sufficient to return a verdict of conviction for an offence of rape.

Additionally, the Court observed that even if the testimony of Ms A is not sterling, there is sufficient evidence on corroboration with the FSL Report. The Appellant lead a defence that Ms A had asked him for Rs. 80,000/- and on his refusal has falsely implicated him. The Court found that the defence led by the Appellant did not raise any doubts and clearly unpersuasive. With respect to a lady living in the vicinity, the Court observed that living in the vicinity cannot be construed as living next door. 

Court’s Decision

The Appeal was dismissed, and the conviction of the Appellant was upheld.    


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