Sole evidence of sexual offence victim is enough for conviction: Supreme Court

Court confirms sentence for assault of 13-year-old.

October 22, 2020 10:56 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 10:36 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The sole and trustworthy evidence of a woman, who is a victim of a sexual offence, is enough to find her assailant guilty, the Supreme Court has held.

“A woman, who is the victim of sexual assault, is not an accomplice to the crime but is a victim of another person’s lust and, therefore, her evidence need not be tested with the same amount of suspicion as that of an accomplice,” a three-judge Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan observed .

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The court was confirming the punishment awarded to a man found guilty under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old child in Tamil Nadu. The Madras High Court had upheld the trial verdict of guilt. The verdict was based on the evidence of the victim though her mother had turned hostile.

Justice M.R. Shah drew attention to the long train of judicial precedents from the apex court which have all held that “evidence of the victim of sexual assault is enough for conviction” in a sexual offence case unless there are serious contradictions. Cases of violence against women should be treated with “utmost sensitivity”. Minor contradictions in her testimony should not derail an otherwise water-tight case.

Comment | Putting victims on trial

The rapist degrades the very soul of the helpless female, Justice Shah quoted from a past verdict.

“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,” the judgment said .

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