Sexual Assault: Conviction Based On Sole Testimony Of Victim Sustains Only If It Is Stellar In Quality & Unwavering: Madras HC
The Madras High Court while setting aside the conviction of the appellant held that in a case of sexual assault, the conviction based on the sole testimony of the victim shall sustain only if the same is stellar in quality and unwavering.
The Court was deciding an appeal filed against the judgment passed by the Trial Court wherein the appellant was convicted under Section 452 of the IPC and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for seven years with a fine of Rs. 5,000/-.
A Single Bench of Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy observed, “… in a case of sexual assault, the conviction can be based on the sole testimony of the victim, the same has to be stellar in quality and unwavering. … in a case like this, the case of the prosecution that conviction should be based on sole testimony cannot be accepted. Further, to top it all, by her own conduct, P.W.1 had even prevented further corroborative medical evidence which would have been on record.”
The Court said that the contradictions in the case of prosecution entitle the appellant for benefit of the doubt.
Advocates Sharukumar and K. Elangovan appeared for the appellant while Government Advocate R. Kishore Kumar appeared for the respondent.
In this case, when the victim was alone at home, she heard the noise of a rear-side door being locked and upon opening, the accused was standing near the door. When she asked him what he is doing there at that time, suddenly, the accused came inside the house.
The accused pushed the victim inside the house, bolted the door from the inside, and with his lungi, stuffed her mouth and covered her face, hit her with his hands, and outraged her modesty. At that point of time, her husband came in and upon seeing him, the accused ran away and the husband also went in pursuit of him.
The High Court after hearing the contentions of both counsel noted, “…the case of the prosecution is not proved not only in respect of the offence under Section 376 of The IPC, but also, in respect of the other offences under Sections 323, 354 and 452 of The IPC and Section 4 of The TNPHW Act and that the appellant herein is entitled for the benefit of doubt.”
The Court asserted that a false complaint is lodged and the evidence of the prosecution is not to the effect of ruling out a defence and therefore, the very occurrence is in doubt.
“… it is also not known what factors subsequently came to light or unearthed which resulted in registering an F.I.R on the same complaint after 8 days and the allegations of P.W.1 keeps on changing on repeatedly and with the passage of time more and more serious allegations are made and therefore, absolutely, the case of the prosecution is not believable”, said the Court.
Accordingly, the Court allowed the appeal and set aside the conviction of the accused.
Cause Title- Kumar v. State (Neutral Citation: 2023/MHC/984)