Once the court believes the statement of a survivor of sexual assault, it is sufficient to establish an offence punishable under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the failure of the police to send seized articles to the forensic science laboratory would not affect the outcome in such a case, held the Supreme Court in November, while confirming the conviction of a rape-accused. A Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S. Oka was hearing a criminal appeal arising out of a judgement of the Chhattisgarh High Court, in which the High Court, believing the testimony of the prosecutrix, held that the guilt of the appellant had been proved beyond reasonable belief.
Before the apex court, the appellant mounted a three-pronged attack on the concurrent judgements of the sessions court and the High Court. First, he argued that the act in question was consensual. Second, he argued that there were significant contradictions and omissions in the deposition of the prosecutrix. Finally, he contended that the articles of clothing seized by the police had not been sent for analysis to the forensic laboratory. Noting that the consistent case of the appellant-accused was to altogether deny the charges and that no suggestion had been put to the prosecutrix during cross-examination that she had consented to the act, the Court disputed the first claim. It also held that the evidence on record was consistent with the statements made in the first information report, and any contradiction that was pointed out by the appellant was of an "insignificant nature" that "did not affect the substratum of the case". "The evidence on record also shows that the prosecutrix suffered two injuries below the nostril. The pieces of broken bangles were found at the place of the incident. We are of the view that there is absolutely nothing to discredit the version of the prosecutrix," the apex court held.
Finally, it was held that the failure of the police to send the seized items of clothing to the forensic laboratory did not have any significance since the court had concluded the survivor's version of the story to be credible. The top court observed, "The Trial Court has gone into the issue of contradictions and omissions in the evidence of the prosecutrix and has believed her testimony for the reasons recorded. Even the High Court has believed the testimony of the prosecutrix." "After having carefully perused the evidence of the prosecutrix, we find no reason to take a different view," the Bench added "Once the Court believes the version of prosecutrix, that is sufficient to establish the offence punishable under Section 376 of IPC. The failure of the police to send the seized articles to the FSL ceases to have any significance in such a case."
Therefore, the Division Bench dismissed the appeal preferred by the accused, holding that there was no merit in it.
Somai v. State of Madhya Pradesh (Now Chhattisgarh) [Criminal Appeal No. 497/2022]
For Appellant(s) Mr. Abhishek Pandey, Adv. Mr. Mahesh Pandey, Adv. Mr. Siddharth Pandey, Adv. Ms. Shweta Mulchandani, Adv. Mr. Satish Pandey, AOR
For Respondent(s) Ms. Prachi Mishra, Ld. AAG Mr. Dipesh Singhal, Adv. Mr. Gautam Narayan, AOR
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 989
Statement of Prosecutrix – Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Act 45 of 1860) – Sections 376 and 450 – Failure of Police to Send Seized Clothes to Forensic Laboratory – Once the court believes the version of a survivor of sexual assault, that is sufficient to establish an offence punishable under Section 376, IPC – Failure of the police to send seized articles to the forensic science laboratory would not affect the outcome in such a case – Held, there was no merit in the appeal by the appellant-accused – Appeal dismissed.