Monday, 23 May, 2022
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SC rules rape accused can only be convicted if victim’s testimony is of sterling quality

The Supreme Court noted that it could not lose sight of false cases & needed to protect the accused, even though ordinarily sole testimony of rape victim was enough for a conviction.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has ruled that a rape accused cannot be convicted on the basis of sole testimony of the victim unless it is “absolutely trustworthy, unblemished and of sterling quality”.

A bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice MR Shah has reiterated that the sterling witness should be of very high quality and calibre, whose version should be unassailable. The apex court’s observation came while acquitting a man, who was accused of raping his sister-in-law in September 2011 in Makhdumpur, Patna.

Also read: Dread, betrayal, poverty, hope: Stories of forgotten families of 16 Dec gang rape convicts

The victim had complained that her brother-in-law, the accused, had raped her on the preceding night of September 16, 2011. Based on her complaint an FIR was registered.
A trial court had sentenced the accused to 10 years of jail, which was upheld by the High Court. The man then moved the apex court.

The lawyer representing the man argued that “except the deposition/evidence of the prosecutrix (victim) which has not been corroborated by the medical evidence, there is no other independent and cogent evidence to connect the accused with the guilt”.

Taking note of the submissions that there were material contradictions in the evidence of the victim, the top court said the version of the victim could not be taken as the gospel truth as in the absence of any other supporting evidence, there was no scope to sustain the conviction.

The bench noted that ordinarily the sole testimony of the victim was enough to convict an accused of rape, it could not lose sight of the protection of the accused against false implication.

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