Punjab and Haryana High Court while dealing with a case of father raping minor daughter, held that the conviction for the offence under Section 376 of IPC can be based on the sole testimony of the rape victim.
The bench comprising Justice Sureshwar Thakur and Justice N.S.Shekhawat further added that there can never be more graver and heinous crime than a father committing rape on his own daughter.
"The victim clearly stated...she along with her father came to reside at the house of the complainant, but her father i.e. the appellant had been committing sexual intercourse with her against her wishes. Whenever, she resisted, he used to beat her up. One day, when the appellant was doing bad thing with her, Babbu aunty (complainant) reached there to rescue her, after hearing her cries. On this, her father ran away and she was bleeding from her private parts and was taken to a doctor. Again the said witness was put to incisive cross-examination and she would with stood the test of cross-examination. We have perused her testimony and found her worthy of credence."
The court was dealing with a case where the father was accused of raping and committing sexual assault on his 7/8 years old daughter for about 2 months. The accused was convicted under Section 376 IPC and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 14 years by the Additional Sessions Judge, Jalandhar. Challenging the impugned judgment and order, the instant appeal was preferred.
After considering the rival submission of the parties, the court placed reliance on State of UP v. Chhotey Lal (2011) 2 SCC 550, wherein the approach to be adopted in evaluating the testimony of victim of rape was illuminatingly postulated by the Supreme Court.
On the touchstone of the aforesaid judgement, the court noted that the appellant had ravished his own daughter i.e. the victim in the most inhumane manner, which was witnessed by the complainant.
The court further placed reliance on the judgement of State of Punjab v. Gurmit Singh, 1996, SCC (Crl.) 316, and State of Maharashtra v. Chandraprakash Kewalchand Jain, 1990 SCC (Crl) 210, wherein the Supreme Court held that a woman or a girl subjected to sexual assault is not an accomplice to the crime but is a victim of another person's lust, therefore it is improper and undesirable to test her evidence with a certain amount of suspicion and treating her as accomplice.
The inherent bashfulness of the females and the tendency to conceal outrage of sexual aggression are the factors which the Courts should not overlook. The testimony of the victim in such cases is vital and unless there are compelling reasons, which necessitate looking for corroboration of her statement, the courts should find no difficulty to act on the testimony of a victim of sexual assault alone to convict an accused, where her testimony inspires confidence and is found to be reliable. Seeking corroboration of her statement before relying upon the same, as a rule, in such cases amounts to adding insult to injury.
The court upheld the conviction on the testimony of the victim and evidence of witnesses. Such evidence was supported by the medical evidence in the shape of the statement of Dr. Sarita Mehra, who opined that the possibility of sexual assault having taken place could not be ruled out.