Conviction for rape on the basis of uncorroborated testimony of Child Victim
It is well settled by a catena of decisions of the Supreme Court that corroboration is not a sine qua non for conviction in a rape case. If the evidence of the victim does not suffer from any basic infirmity and the ‘probabilities factor’ does not render it unworthy of credence. As a general rule, there is no reason to insist on corroboration except from medical evidence. However, having regard to the circumstances of the case, medical evidence may not be available. In such cases, solitary testimony of the prosecutrix would be sufficient to base the conviction, if it inspires the confidence of the court.
The prosecutrix was aged only nine years, she had no reason to falsely implicate her cousin. Since the prosecutrix has been compelled to face the ordeal of sleeping with the respondent-accused everyday night, On 04.03.2010 she refused to go the house of her aunt. Considering the evidence of PW-4 – a girl of tender year, corroboration from an independent source of the evidence of the prosecutrix is not required. The evidence of the prosecutrix clearly established that the accused was committing rape on her by penetration.
Absence of Injury:
Insofar as the second ground on which the High Court gave the benefit of doubt to the respondent-accused that the medical evidence was inconclusive, it is to be pointed out that Dr. Neerja Gupta (PW-6) in her evidence has categorically stated that merely because there was no injury marks it cannot be said that there was no question
of sexual intercourse. In her Chief Examination Dr. Neerja Gupta (PW-6) has further stated that in case of small/slightest penetration the hymen will not rupture; the hymen will rupture only in case of complete penetration with force. As discussed earlier, the respondent-accused made the prosecutrix (PW-4) to sleep with him and inserted his private part in the private part of the prosecutrix which constitutes rape. This may not have ruptured the hymen.
In the absence of injury on the private part of the prosecutrix, it cannot be concluded that the incident had not taken place or the sexual intercourse was committed with the consent of the prosecutrix. The prosecutrix being a small child of about nine years of age, there oculd be no question of her giving consent to sexual intercourse. The absence of injuries on the private part of the prosecutrix can be of no consequence in the facts and circumstances of the
Examination of mother of victim:
Be it noted that the respondent-accused is the son of the aunt of the prosecutrix. Nothing prevented the respondent-accused to have examined his mother as his witness. The non-examination of aunt of the prosecutrix
(PW-4) cannot be put against the prosecution. In the light of the evidence of the prosecutrix and the categorical findings recorded by the Trial Court, in our view the High Court was not justified in reversing the conviction of the respondent-accused and recording order of acquittal of the respondent-accused. In order to give the benefit of doubt to the accused, it has to be a reasonable doubt.
There are number of unmerited acquittals in rape cases and that the courts have to display a greater sense of responsibility and to be more sensitive while dealing with the charges of sexual assault on woman.
[Source: State of H.P. vs. Manga Singh decided by SC on 28th Nov. 2019]