Sole Witness

2020 SCeJournal 1861

 

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

 

14.10.2020

 

POCSO Act, Section 7, 8 -  Sterling witness  - Conviction solely based on the sole testimony of the victim - On   evaluating   the   deposition   of   the victim   on   the touchstone of the law laid down by this Court we are of the opinion that the sole testimony of the victim is absolutely trustworthy and unblemished and her evidence is of sterling quality - Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the case, the learned trial Court has not committed any error in convicting the accused,   relying   upon   the   deposition   of   victim. 2020 SCeJournal 1861

 

Sterling Witness - Who can be said to be a “sterling witness”, has been dealt with and considered by this Court in the case of  Rai Sandeep alias   Deepu   v.   State   (NCT   of   Delhi),   (2012)   8   SCC   212020 SCeJournal 1861    

 

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Conviction based on statement of solitary victim witness.

 

To hold an accused guilty for commission of an offence of rape, the solitary evidence of the  prosecutrix is sufficient, provided the same   inspires   confidence   and   appears   to   be   absolutely trustworthy, unblemished and should be of sterling quality. Krishan Kumar Malik v. State of Haryana (2011) 7 SCC 130,

Statement of the prosecutrix, if found to be worthy of credence and reliable,   requires   no   corroboration.   The   court   may   convict   the accused on the sole testimony of the prosecutrix. Vijay alias Chinee v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (2010) 8 SCC 191.

In a case where it is shown that the girl is a girl of easy virtue or a girl habituated to sexual intercourse, it may not be a ground to absolve the accused from the charge of rape. It has to be established   that   there   was   consent   by   her   for   that   particular occasion. Absence of injury on the prosecutrix may not be a factor that leads the court to absolve the accused. There   can   be   conviction   on   the   sole   testimony   of   the prosecutrix and in case, the court is not satisfied with the version of   the   prosecutrix,   it   can   seek   other   evidence,   direct   or circumstantial, by which it may get assurance of her testimony. State of U.P. v. Pappu, (2005) 3 SCC 594

In cases involving sexual harassment, molestation, etc. the court is duty­ bound to deal with such cases with utmost sensitivity. Minor contradictions or insignificant discrepancies in the statement of a prosecutrix should not be a ground for throwing out an otherwise reliable prosecution case. Evidence of the victim of sexual assault is enough for conviction and it does not require any corroboration unless there are compelling reasons for seeking corroboration.  The  court  may look  for  some  assurances  of  her statement   to   satisfy   judicial   conscience.   The   statement   of   the prosecutrix is more reliable than that of an injured witness as she is not an accomplice. Delay in filing FIR for sexual offence may not be even properly explained, but if found natural, the accused cannot be given any benefit thereof. State of Punjab v. Gurmit Singh, (1996) 2 SCC 384.

Rape is not mere physical assault, rather it often destroys the whole personality of the victim. The rapist degrades the very soul of the helpless female and, therefore, the   testimony   of   the   prosecutrix   must   be   appreciated   in   the background of the entire case and in such cases, non-­examination even  of   other   witnesses  may  not   be   a  serious  infirmity  in  the prosecution case, particularly where the witnesses had not seen the commission of the offence.  State of Orissa v. Thakara Besra, (2002) 9 SCC 86.

There   is   no   legal   compulsion   to   look   for   any   other evidence   to   corroborate   the   evidence   of   the   prosecutrix   before recording an order of conviction. Evidence has to be weighed and not counted. Conviction can be recorded on the sole testimony of the prosecutrix, if her evidence inspires confidence and there is absence of circumstances which militate against her veracity. State of H.P. v. Raghubir Singh, (1993) 2 SCC 622.

Similar view in Wahid Khan v. State   of   M.P.   (2010)   2   SCC   9 ,   Rameshwar v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1952 SC 54.