Prafulla Vinayaknage And Another vs State Of … on 26 September, 2017

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IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY
NAGPUR BENCH, NAGPUR

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.424 OF 2002

1] Prafulla Vinayak Nage,
Age about 21 years,
Occu: Education,
R/o Mayanagar, Amravati.

2] Atul Shrikrishna Bhadake,
Age about 21 years,
R/o Mayanagar, Amravati,
Tq. Dist. Amravati. ……. APPELLANTS

…V E R S U S…

The State of Maharashtra,
through P.S.O. Rajapeth,
Amravati. ……. RESPONDENT
——————————————————————————————-
Shri R.J. Shinde, Advocate for Appellant.
Shri N.B. Jawade, APP for Respondent/State.
——————————————————————————————-

CORAM: ROHIT B. DEO, J.

DATE OF RESERVING THE JUDGMENT : 21.09.2017
DATE OF PRONOUNCING THE JUDGMENT : 26.09.2017

1] Challenge is to the judgment and order dated

10.07.2002 delivered by the 2nd Ad hoc Additional Sessions Judge,

Amravati in Sessions Trial 235/2001, by and under which, the

appellants are convicted of offence punishable under section 376

(2)(g) of Indian Penal Code and under section 354 read with

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section 34 of I.P.C. and are sentenced to suffer rigorous

imprisonment for five years and fine of Rs.2000/-.

Separate sentence is not awarded for offence punishable under

section 354 read with section 34 of I.P.C.

2] Heard Shri R.J. Shinde, the learned counsel for the

accused and Shri N.B. Jawade, the learned Additional Public

Prosecutor for the respondent/State.

3] The case of the prosecution as can be culled out from

the First Information Report dated 27.09.2001 (Exh.14) lodged by

the prosecutrix is thus:

The prosecutrix states in the First Information Report

(“F.I.R.” for short) that in the afternoon of 27.09.2001 she went to

the open ground behind the spinning mill situated in the M.I.D.C.

area of Amravati, to answer the nature’s call. The prosecutrix

states in the F.I.R., that she was accosted by the appellants and

one juvenile in conflict (“J.C.” for short) from behind. The J.C.

held her by the hair, she was thrown on the ground and the

appellants and the J.C. committed forcible sexual intercourse one

after the other. The F.I.R. states that the prosecutrix fell

unconscious and could recover her senses only when somebody

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sprinkled water on her face. The F.I.R. states that when the

prosecutrix gathered senses, the two appellants and the J.C. were

standing near her. At that moment, one shop-keeper by name

Shahu came near her. The appellants and the J.C. started running

away, the shop-keeper attempted to apprehend them and realizing

that he could not do so, the shop-keeper came back to the

prosecutrix. The shop-keeper Shau was told that the appellants

and the J.C. had committed forcible sexual intercourse.

The prosecutrix states that her clothes were soaked with blood,

that she disclosed the incident to her mother after her mother

returned from work at 06:00 p.m. and then the prosecutrix and

her mother lodged the police report.

4] An offence punishable under section 376 (2)(g), 354

read with section 34 of I.P.C. was registered on the basis of the

said report Exh.13. The prosecutrix was referred for medical

examination. Doctor Mangala Gaherwar (P.W.6) examined the

prosecutrix at 10:45 p.m. and did not notice any visible sign of

injury on the body including the private parts of the prosecutrix.

Dr. Gaherwar observes that the hymen was torn and that the

vagina allows two finger easily. No bleeding was noticed. P.W.6

opined that the prosecutrix was habituated to sexual intercourse

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and that no definite opinion about rape could be given.

The certificate issued by P.W.6 is Exh.31. The spot panchnama

records that hairs, hair pin were noticed on the spot. The said

articles along with the sample of earth were seized vide Exh.21,

the clothes on the person of the prosecutrix were seized vide

Exh.15. The clothes of the accused Prafulla and Atul were seized

vide Exh.21 and 24 respectively. The completion of the

investigation culminated in submission of the charge-sheet in the

Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class, Court-6, Amravati who

committed the case to the Sessions Court.

5] The learned Sessions Judge framed charge at Exh.6,

the accused pleaded not guilty and claimed to be tried.

The defence, as is discernible from the text and tenor of the

cross-examination is of false implication. A specific defence is

taken that the prosecutrix and the juvenile were having illicit

relationship and since the accused spread rumours in the locality,

the prosecutrix has falsely implicated the accused. This defence

apart, it is obvious from the suggestion given to the prosecutrix in

the cross-examination, that another limb of the defence is that the

sexual intercourse, if at all, was consensual. I will advert to this

aspect in some detail at a later stage in the judgment.

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6] The first question which falls for consideration is

whether the prosecution has proved that the age of the

prosecutrix was less than 16 years, and the consent, if at all, is of

no consequence. The prosecutrix has mentioned her age as 16 as

on the date of deposing before the Court. The evidence of the

prosecutrix was recorded on 03.06.2002 while the incident

occurred on 27.09.2001. It is obvious that the prosecutrix is

claiming that her age was less than 16 years as on the date of the

incident. The mother of the prosecutrix is examined as P.W.2.

She states that the date of birth of the prosecutrix is 14.04.1986

and that the prosecutrix was 15 years and one month old as on

the date of the incident. The prosecution has examined one

Girdhar Borkhade as P.W.7 to prove the age of the prosecutrix as

was recorded in Jiwan Vikas Vidyalaya, Amravati. P.W.7 deposed

that he is the Head Master of the said school and the prosecutrix

was studying in IX standard in the year 2000-2001. P.W.7 states

that he issued certificate Exh.34, the certificate is in the hand

writing of P.W.7 and the date of birth is recorded in the said

certificate on the basis of the original register. P.W.7 proves the

entry in the original register (Exh.35). P.W.7 states that the date

of birth of the prosecutrix is 14.04.1986 and her admission

number is 1944. P.W.7 further states that the entry of the date of

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birth in the register was recorded on the basis of the leaving

certificate of the previous school. P.W.7 produced the school

leaving certificate issued by the Head Master of Veer Wamanrao

Joshi School, Amravati. The photocopy, which was compared with

the original, of the leaving certificate of the school in which the

prosecutrix earlier stated, was exhibited despite the objection of

the counsel for the accused. In the cross-examination, P.W.7

admits that the entries in the school register are not in his hand

writing. P.W.7 admits that he is not aware as to under whose

direction the entries in the school register were recorded.

The witness is not aware of the name of the person who recorded

the relevant entry.

7] At this stage, it would be apposite to notice the

following observations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in State of

M.P. vs. Anoop Singh (2015) 7 SCC 773:

14. This Court in Mahadeo v. State of
Maharashtra has held that Rule 12(3) of the Juvenile
Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Rules, 2007,
is applicable in determining the age of the victim of
rape. Rule 12(3) reads as under:

“12. (3) In every case concerning a child or
juvenile in conflict with law, the age determination
inquiry shall be conducted by the court or the Board or,

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as the case may be, the Committee by seeking evidence
by obtaining–

(a)(i) the matriculation or equivalent
certificates, if available; and in the absence whereof;

(ii) the date of birth certificate from the school
(other than a play school) first attended; and in the
absence whereof;

(iii) the birth certificate given by a corporation
or a municipal authority or a panchayat;

(b) and only in the absence of either (i), (ii) or

(iii) of clause (a) above, the medical opinion will be
sought from a duly constituted Medical Board, which
will declare the age of the juvenile or child. In case
exact assessment of the age cannot be done, the Court
or the Board or, as the case may be, the Committee, for
the reasons to be recorded by them, may, if considered
necessary, give benefit to the child or juvenile by
considering his/her age on lower side within the
margin of one year.

and, while passing orders in such case shall, after
taking into consideration such evidence as may be
available, or the medical opinion, as the case may be,
record a finding in respect of his age and either of the
evidence specified in any of the clauses (a)(i), (ii), (iii)
or in the absence whereof, clause (b) shall be the
conclusive proof of the age as regards such child or the
juvenile in conflict with law.”

15. This Court further held in para 12 of
Mahadeo, as under: (SCC p. 641)

“12. … Under Rule 12(3)(b), it is specifically
provided that only in the absence of alternative
methods described under Rules 12(3)(a)(i) to (iii), the
medical opinion can be sought for. In the light of such a
statutory rule prevailing for ascertainment of the age of
the juvenile in our considered opinion, the same

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yardstick can be rightly followed by the courts for the
purpose of ascertaining the age of a victim as well.”

(emphasis supplied)

This Court therefore relied on the certificates issued by
the school in determining the age of the prosecutrix. In
para 13, this Court observed: (Mahadeo case, SCC p.

641)

“13. In light of our above reasoning, in the case
on hand, there were certificates issued by the school in
which the prosecutrix did her Vth standard and in the
school leaving certificate issued by the school under Ext.
54, the date of birth of the prosecutrix has been clearly
noted as 20-5-1990, and this document was also
proved by PW 11. Apart from that the transfer
certificate as well as the admission form maintained by
the Primary School, Latur, where the prosecutrix had
her initial education, also confirmed the date of birth
as 20-5-1990. The reliance placed upon the said
evidence by the courts below to arrive at the age of the
prosecutrix to hold that the prosecutrix was below 18
years of age at the time of the occurrence was perfectly
justified and we do not find any grounds to interfere
with the same.”

8] It is axiomatic, that in the light of the law enunciated

by the Hon’ble Apex Court, the prosecution has not established

that the age of the prosecutrix was less than 16 years on the date

of the incident. The evidence of P.W.7 proves the age as is

recorded in Jiwan Vikas Vidyalaya, Amravati. However, the

prosecution is statutorily mandated to prove the date of birth

certificate from the school first attended. Concededly, neither the

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matriculation or equivalent certificate, nor the birth certificate

issued by a corporation or municipal authority or panchayat was

relied upon the prosecution. No medical examination, inter alia

ossification test, was conducted to determine the age of the

prosecutrix. The evidence of P.W.7 does not satisfy the

requirement of Rule 12(3)(ii) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and

Protection of Children) Rules, 2007. The leaving certificate issued

by Veer Wamanrao Joshi School, Amravati is not proved and is

not admissible in evidence. The prosecution did not examine the

author of the leaving certificate nor did the prosecution examine

any witness to prove the primary record on the basis of which the

alleged leaving certificate was issued. The purported leaving

certificate of the school which the prosecutrix first attended must

be shut out of consideration as inadmissible. In view of the

enunciation in State of M.P. v. Anoop Singh it must be held that

the prosecution has not proved that the age of the prosecutrix was

less than 16 on the date of the incident. It would also be relevant

to note the following observations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court

in AIR 2011 SC 715 Alamelu and another v. State:

39. Considering the manner in which the facts
recorded in a document may be proved, this Court in

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the case of Birad Mal Singhvi v. Anand Purohit,
observed as follows:-

“The date of birth mentioned in the scholars’
register has no evidentiary value unless the person who
made the entry or who gave the date of birth is
examined…………………………………………………………….
Merely because the documents Exs. 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12
were proved, it does not mean that the contents of
documents were also proved. Mere proof of the
documents Exs. 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 would not
tantamount to proof of all the contents or the
correctness of date of birth stated in the documents.
Since the truth of the fact, namely, the date of birth of
Hukmi Chand and Suraj Prakash Joshi was in issue,
mere proof of the documents as produced by the
aforesaid two witnesses does not furnish evidence of the
truth of the facts or contents of the documents.
The truth or otherwise of the facts in issue, namely, the
date of birth of the two candidates as mentioned in the
documents could be proved by admissible evidence i.e.
by the evidence of those persons who could vouchsafe
for the truth of the facts in issue. No evidence of any
such kind was produced by the respondent to prove the
truth of the facts, namely, the date of birth of Hukmi
Chand and of Suraj Prakash Joshi. In the
circumstances the dates of birth as mentioned in the
aforesaid documents have no probative value and the
dates of birth as mentioned therein could not be
accepted.”

The same proposition of law is reiterated by this Court
in the case of Narbada Devi Gupta Vs. Birendra Kumar
Jaiswal, where this Court observed as follows:-

“The legal position is not in dispute that mere
production and marking of a document as exhibit by
the court cannot be held to be a due proof of its
contents. Its execution has to be proved by admissible
evidence, that is, by the “evidence of those persons who
can vouchsafe for the truth of the facts in issue”.”

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9] The next question which falls for consideration is

whether the prosecution has proved that the prosecutrix was

subjected to sexual intercourse. If it is held that the prosecutrix

was subjected to sexual intercourse, the question would be

whether the act was consensual or forcible. At this stage, it would

be apposite to consider the provisions of section 376 (2)(g) as

they stood prior to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

376. Punishment for rape.– (1) Whoever,
except in the cases provided for by sub-section (2),
commits rape shall be punished with imprisonment of
either description for a term which shall not be less
than seven years but which may be for life or for a term
which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable
to fine unless the woman rapes is his own wife and is
not under twelve years of age, in which case, he shall be
punished with imprisonment of either description for a
term which may extend to two years or with fine or
with both:

Provided that the Court may, for adequate and
special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment,
impose a sentence of imprisonment for a term of less
than seven years.

(2) Whoever, —

(a) being a police officer commits rape–

(i) within the limits of the police station
to which he is appointed; or

(ii) in the premises of any station house
whether or not situated in the police station to which
he is appointed; or

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(iii) on a woman in his custody or in the
custody of a police officer subordinate to him; or

(b) being a public servant, takes
advantage of his official position and commits rape on
a woman in his custody as such public servant or in the
custody of a public servant subordinate to him; or

(c) being on the management or on the
staff of a jail, remand home or other place of custody
established by or under any law for the time being in
force or of a woman’s or children’s institution takes
advantage of his official position and commits rape on
any inmate of such jail, remand home, place or
institution; or

(d) being on the management or on the
staff of a hospital, takes advantage of his official
position and commits rape on a woman in that
hospital; or

(e) commits rape on a woman knowing
her to be pregnant; or

(f) commits rape on a woman when she is
under twelve years of age; or

(g) commits gang rape.

shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a
term which shall not be less than ten years but which
may be for life and shall also be liable to fine:

Provided that the Court, may for adequate and
special reasons to be mentioned in the judgment,
impose a sentence of imprisonment of either description
for a term of less than ten years.

Explanation 1.– Where a woman is raped by
one or more in a group of persons acting in furtherance
of their common intention,, each of the persons shall be
deemed to have committed gang rape within the
meaning of this sub-section.

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Explanation 2.– “Women’s or children’s
institution” means an institution, whether called an
orphanage or a home for neglected women or children
or a widow’s home or by any other name, which is
established and maintained for the reception and care
of women or children.

Explanation 3.– “Hospital” means the precincts
of the hospital and includes the precincts of any
institution for the reception and treatment of persons
during convalescence or of persons requiring medical
attention or rehabilitation.]

10] It would also be necessary to notice the provisions of

section 114-A as the provisions stood prior to the Criminal Law

(Amendment) Act, 2013.

“114-A. Presumption as to absence of consent in
certain prosecutions for rape.– In a prosecution for
rape under clause (a) or clause (b) or clause (c) or
clause (d) or clause (e) or clause (g) of sub-section (2)
of
section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860),
where sexual intercourse by the accused is proved and
the question is whether it was without the consent of
the woman alleged to have been raped and she states in
her evidence before the Court that she did not consent,
the Court shall presume that she did not consent.”

A intentionally and falsely leads B to believe that
certain land belongs to A, and thereby induces B to buy
and pay for it.

The land afterwards becomes the property of A,
and A seeks to set aside the sale on the ground that, at
the time of the sale, he had no title. He must not be
allowed to prove his want of title.

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11] The provisions noted supra, are of some relevance,

since the tenor of the cross-examination is suggestive of a defence

that even if sexual intercourse is proved, the sexual intercourse

was consensual.

12] Shri R.J. Shinde, the learned counsel for the accused

submits that the evidence on record is grossly inadequate to

establish that the prosecutrix was sexually exploited. The learned

counsel would submit that the medical evidence is inconsistent

with the evidence of the prosecutrix that she was subjected to

forcible sexual intercourse. The learned counsel would emphasis

on the absence of any visible sign of injury on the person of the

prosecutrix inter alia the private parts and on the opinion of the

Doctor that the prosecutrix was habituated to sexual intercourse.

The learned counsel would submit that the evidence of the

prosecutrix is not confidence inspiring and must be discarded on

the short ground that if the prosecutrix was as a fact subjected to

a prolonged and brutal sexual assault by three persons, she would

certainly have suffered injuries either on her person or on the

private parts. The learned counsel for the accused relies on the

judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in (i) AIR 2011 SC 715

Alamelu and another v. State, Represented by Inspector of Police

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With Sekar and another v. State, Represented by Inspector of Police

(ii) 2012 (7) SCC 171 Narender Kumar vs. State (NCT of Delhi)

and (iii) 2015(10) SCALE 495 State of Karnatka vs. F. Nataraj, in

support of the aforesaid submission.

14] Per contra, Shri N.B. Jawade the learned Additional

Public Prosecutor submits that the sole and uncorroborated

testimony of the prosecutrix, if otherwise confidence inspiring, can

be the basis of conviction and the absence of injury on the person

or private part of the prosecutrix, particularly if she is habituated

to sexual intercourse, does not necessarily rule out forcible

intercourse. The learned A.P.P. further submits that the age of the

prosecutrix, assuming that she was more than 16 years old, is of

no relevance. The learned A.P.P. would submit that if the sexual

intercourse is proved, the statutory presumption under section

114-A would be activated since the prosecutrix has denied that

she consented to sexual intercourse and the burden would be on

the accused to prove that the sexual intercourse was consensual.

The learned A.P.P. would then submit, that in view of the

suggestions given in the cross-examination of the prosecutrix, the

accused have admitted not only their presence on the spot, the

accused have further admitted sexual intercourse. The learned

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A.P.P. relies on the following precedents to buttress the aforesaid

submissions.

[i] 2010 (8) SCC 191 Vijay alias Chinee vs. State of
Madhya Pradesh.

[ii] 2014 Cri. L.J. 1092 State of Rajasthan vs.
Rohsan Khan and others.

[iii] State of Himachal Pradesh vs. Gian Chand AIR
2001 SC 2075.

[iv] AIR 1995 SC 2447 Karnel Singh v. State of M.P.

[v] AIR 1987 SC 1087 Balwant Singh and others v.

State of Punjab and Saudagar Singh v. State of
Punjab.

15. Concededly, the conviction is based on the sole

uncorroborated testimony of the prosecutrix. The medical

evidence is not conclusive and indeed no visible sign of injury is

noticed on the person of the prosecutrix. The clothes seized from

the prosecutrix and the accused were sent to the chemical

analyzer as is evident from Exh.44, but then, the report of the

chemical analyzer is not on record.

16] At this stage, it would be useful to consider the law

enunciated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on the appreciation of

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the uncorroborated testimony of the prosecutrix. In Vijay alias

Chinee vs. State of Madhya Pradesh (2010) 8 SCC 191 the Hon’ble

Supreme Court observes thus:

9. In State of Maharashtra v. Chandraprakash
Kewalchand Jain this Court held that 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.
The Court observed as under:

“16. A prosecutrix of a sex offence cannot be put
on par with an accomplice. She is in fact a victim of the
crime.
The Evidence Act nowhere says that her evidence
cannot be accepted unless it is corroborated in material
particulars. She is undoubtedly a competent witness
under
Section 118 and her evidence must receive the
same weight as is attached to an injured in cases of
physical violence. The same degree of care and caution
must attach in the evaluation of her evidence as in the
case of an injured complainant or witness and no more.
What is necessary is that the Court must be alive to and
conscious of the fact that it is dealing with the evidence
of a person who is interested in the outcome of the
charge levelled by her. If the court keeps this in mind
and feels satisfied that it can act on the evidence of the
prosecutrix, there is no rule of law or practice
incorporated in the
Evidence Act similar to illustration

(b) to Section 114 which requires it to look for
corroboration. If for some reason the court is hesitant
to place implicit reliance on the testimony of the
prosecutrix it may look for evidence which may lend
assurance to her testimony short of corroboration
required in the case of an accomplice. The nature of
evidence required to lend assurance to the testimony of
the prosecutrix must necessarily depend on the facts
and circumstances of each case. But if a prosecutrix is

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an adult and of full understanding the court is entitled
to base a conviction on her evidence unless the same is
shown to be infirm and not trustworthy. If the totality
of the circumstances appearing on the record of the case
disclose that the prosecutrix does not have a strong
motive to falsely involve the person charged, the court
should ordinarily have no hesitation in accepting her
evidence.”

10. In State of U.P. Vs. Pappu this Court held that
even in a case where it is shown that the girl is a girl of
easy virtue or a girl habituated to sexual intercourse, it
may not be a ground to absolve the accused from the
charge of rape. It has to be established that there was
consent by her for that particular occasion. Absence of
injury on the prosecutrix may not be a factor that leads
the court to absolve the accused. This Court further
held that there can be conviction on the sole testimony
of the prosecutrix and in case, the court is not satisfied
with the version of the prosecutrix, it can seek other
evidence, direct or circumstantial, by which it may get
assurance of her testimony. The Court held as under:
(SCC p. 597, para 12)

“12. It is well settled that a prosecutrix
complaining of having been a victim of the offence of
rape is not an accomplice after the crime. There is no
rule of law that her testimony cannot be acted without
corroboration in material particulars. She stands at a
higher pedestal than an injured witness. In the latter
case, there is injury on the physical form, while in the
former it is both physical as well as psychological and
emotional. However, if the court of facts finds it
difficult to accept the version of the prosecutrix on its
face value, it may search for evidence, direct or
circumstantial, which would lend assurance to her
testimony. Assurance, short of corroboration as
understood in the context of an accomplice, would do.”

11. In State of Punjab v. Gurmit Singh this Court
held that in cases involving sexual harassment,
molestation etc. the court is duty bound to deal with

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such cases with utmost sensitivity. Minor contradictions
or insignificant discrepancies in the statement of a
prosecutrix should not be a ground for throwing out an
otherwise reliable prosecution case. Evidence of the
victim of sexual assault is enough for conviction and it
does not require any corroboration unless there are
compelling reasons for seeking corroboration. The court
may look for some assurances of her statement to
satisfy judicial conscience. The statement of the
prosecutrix is more reliable than that of an injured
witness as she is not an accomplice. The Court further
held that the delay in filing FIR for sexual offence may
not be even properly explained, but if found natural,
the accused cannot be given any benefit thereof. The
Court observed as under: (SCC pp. 394-96 403,
paras 8 21)

“8. ….. The court overlooked the situation in
which a poor helpless minor girl had found herself in
the company of three desperate young men who were
threatening her and preventing her from raising any
alarm. Again, if the investigating officer did not
conduct the investigation properly or was negligent in
not being able to trace out the driver or the car, how
can that become a ground to discredit the testimony of
the prosecutrix? The prosecutrix had no control over
the investigating agency and the negligence of an
investigating officer could not affect the credibility of
the statement of the prosecutrix….. The courts must,
while evaluating evidence remain alive to the fact that
in a case of rape, no self-respecting woman would come
forward in a court just to make a humiliating
statement against her honour such as is involved in the
commission of rape on her. In cases involving sexual
molestation, supposed considerations which have no
material effect on the veracity of the prosecution case or
even discrepancies in the statement of the prosecutrix
should not, unless the discrepancies are such which are
of fatal nature, be allowed to throw out an otherwise
reliable prosecution case… Seeking corroboration of her
statement before replying upon the same, as a rule, in
such cases amounts to adding insult to injury…..

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Corroboration as a condition for judicial reliance on
the testimony of the prosecutrix is not a requirement of
law but a guidance of prudence under given
circumstances. …..

* * *

21. ….. The courts should examine the broader
probabilities of a case and not get swayed by minor
contradictions or insignificant discrepancies in the
statement of the prosecutrix, which are not of a fatal
nature, to throw out an otherwise reliable prosecution
case. If evidence of the prosecutrix inspires confidence,
it must be relied upon without seeking corroboration of
her statement in material particulars. If for some
reason the court finds it difficult to place implicit
reliance on her testimony, it may look for evidence
which may lend assurance to her testimony, short of
corroboration required in the case of an accomplice.
The testimony of the prosecutrix must be appreciated in
the background of the entire case and the trial court
must be alive to its responsibility and be sensitive while
dealing with cases involving sexual molestations.”

(emphasis in original)

12. In State of Orissa v. Thakara Besra this Court
held that rape is not mere a physical assault, rather it
often distracts (sic destroys) the whole personality of
the victim. The rapist degrades the very soul of the
helpless female and, therefore, the testimony of the
prosecutrix must be appreciated in the background of
the entire case and in such cases, non-examination even
of other witnesses may not be a serious infirmity in the
prosecution case, particularly where the witnesses had
not seen the commission of the offence.

13. In State of H.P. v. Raghubir Singh this Court
held that there is no legal compulsion to look for any
other evidence to corroborate the evidence of the
prosecutrix before recording an order of conviction.
Evidence has to be weighed and not counted. Conviction
can be recorded on the sole testimony of the

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prosecutrix, if her evidence inspires confidence and
there is absence of circumstances which militate against
her veracity. A similar view has been reiterated by this
Court in
Wahid Khan v. State of M.P. placing reliance
on earlier judgment in
Rameshwar v. State of
Rajasthan.

14. Thus, the law that emerges on the issue is to
the effect that statement of the prosecutrix, if found to
be worthy of credence and reliable, requires no
corroboration. The court may convict the accused on
the sole testimony of the prosecutrix.

17] The prosecutrix is examined as P.W.1. She has

deposed that when she went behind Sut-Girni to answer nature’s

call, accused and the J.C. arrived at the spot. One of them held the

prosecutrix by hair, accused 2 held her legs, accused 1 undressed

the prosecutrix and committed forcible sexual intercourse and

then accused 2 also raped the prosecutrix. P.W.1 further states

that the J.C. also committed forcible sexual intercourse. She has

deposed that when her mother returned at 06:00 p.m. She and

her mother lodged the Police report. I will advert to the

cross-examination of the prosecutrix at a later stage in the

judgment in the paragraph to follow. However, the testimony of

the prosecutrix is unambiguous and she has deposed as to the

specific roles of the accused and J.C. The incident occurred at

03:00 p.m. The F.I.R. is lodged with promptitude. It is true that

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the medical evidence rules out injuries on the person of the

private part of the prosecutrix. But then, the law is well settled

that mere absence of injury will not exclude forcible sexual

intercourse and if the evidence of the prosecutrix is implicitly

reliable and trustworthy the Court is not obligated to seek any

corroboration including corroborates from medical evidence. A

useful reference may be made to the observations of the Hon’ble

Supreme Court in State of Maharashtra vs. Chandraprakash

Kewalchand Jain (1990) 1 SCC 500 which reads thus:

15. It is necessary at the outset to state what the
approach of the court should be while evaluating the
prosecution evidence, particularly the evidence of the
prosecutrix, in sex offences. Is it essential that the evidence of
the prosecutrix should be corroborated in material particulars
before the court bases a conviction on her testimony? Does the
rule of prudence demand that in all cases save the rarest of
rare the Court should look for corroboration before acting on
the evidence of the prosecutrix? Let us see if the
Evidence Act
provides the clue. Under the said statute ‘Evidence’ means and
includes all statements which the court permits or requires to
be made before it by witnesses, in relation to the matters of
fact under inquiry. Under
Section 59 all facts, except the
contents of documents, may be proved by oral evidence.
Section 118 then tells us who may give oral evidence.
According to that section all persons are competent to testify
unless the court considers that they are prevented from
understanding the questions put to them, or from giving
rational answers to those questions, by tender years, extreme
old age, disease, whether of body or mind, or any other cause
of the same kind. Even in the case of an accomplice
Section
133 provides that he shall be a competent witness against an

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accused person; and a conviction is not illegal merely because
it proceeds upon the uncorroborated testimony of an
accomplice. However, illustration (b) to
Section 114, which
lays down a rule of practice, says that the Court ‘may’
presume that an accomplice is unworthy of credit, unless he is
corroborated in material particulars. Thus under
Section 133,
which lays down a rule of law, an accomplice is a competent
witness and a conviction based solely on his uncorroborated
evidence is not illegal although in view of
Section 114,
illustration (b), courts do not as a matter of practice do so
and look for corroboration in material particulars. This is the
conjoint effect of
Sections 133 and 114, illustration (b).

16. A prosecutrix of a sex offence cannot be put on par
with an accomplice. She is in fact a victim of the crime.
The Evidence Act nowhere says that her evidence cannot be
accepted unless it is corroborated in material particulars.
She is undoubtedly a competent witness under
Section 118
and her evidence must receive the same weight as is attached
to an injured in cases of physical violence. The same degree of
care and caution must attach in the evaluation of her evidence
as in the case of an injured complainant or witness and no
more. What is necessary is that the court must be alive to and
conscious of the fact that it is dealing with the evidence of a
person who is interested in the outcome of the charge levelled
by her. If the court keeps this in mind and feels satisfied that
it can act on the evidence of the prosecutrix, there is no rule of
law or practice incorporated in the
Evidence Act similar to
illustration (b) to
Section 114 which requires it to look for
corroboration. If for some reason the Court is hesitant to place
implicit reliance on the testimony of the prosecutrix it may
look for evidence which may lend assurance to her testimony
short of corroboration required in the case of an accomplice.
The nature of evidence required to lend assurance to the
testimony of the prosecutrix must necessarily depend on the
facts and circumstances of each case. But if a prosecutrix is an
adult and of full understanding the court is entitled to base a
conviction on her evidence unless the same is shown to be
infirm and not trustworthy. If the totality of the circumstances
appearing on the record of the case disclose that the
prosecutrix does not have a strong motive to falsely involve
the person charged, the court should ordinarily have no

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hesitation in accepting her evidence. We have, therefore, no
doubt in our minds that ordinarily the evidence of a
prosecutrix who does not lack understanding must be
accepted. The degree of proof required must not be higher
than is expected of an injured witness. For the above reasons
we think that exception has rightly been taken to the
approach of the High Court as is reflected in the following
passage:

“It is only in the rarest of rare cases if the court finds that
the testimony of the prosecutrix is so trustworthy, truthful
and reliable that other corroboration may not be necessary.”

With respect, the law is not correctly stated. If we may
say so, it is just the reverse. Ordinarily the evidence of a
prosecutrix must carry the same weight as is attached to an
injured person who is a victim of violence, unless there are
special circumstances which call for greater caution, in which
case it would be safe to act on her testimony if there is
independent evidence lending assurance to her accusation.

17. We think it proper, having regard to the increase in
the number of sex violation cases in the recent past,
particularly cases of molestation and rape in custody, to
remove the notion, if it persists, that the testimony of a
woman who is a victim of sexual violence must ordinarily be
corroborated in material particulars except in the rarest of
rare cases. To insist on corroboration except in the rarest of
rare cases is to equate a woman who is a victim of the lust of
another with an accomplice to a crime and thereby insult
womanhood. It would be adding insult to injury to tell a
woman that her story of woe will not be believed unless it is
corroborated in material particulars as in the case of an
accomplice to a crime. Ours is a conservative society where it
concerns sexual behaviour. Ours is not a permissive society as
in some of the Western and European countries. Our standard
of decency and morality in public life is not the same as in
those countries. It is, however, unfortunate that respect for
womanhood in our country is on the decline and cases of
molestation and rape are steadily growing. An Indian woman
is now required to suffer indignities in different forms, from
lewd remarks to eve-teasing, from molestation to rape.

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Decency and morality in public life can be promoted and
protected only if we deal strictly with those who violate the
societal norms. The standard of proof to be expected by the
court in such cases must take into account the fact that such
crimes are generally committed on the sly and very rarely
direct evidence of a person other than the prosecutrix is
available. Courts must also realize that ordinarily a woman,
more so a young girl, will not stake her reputation by levelling
a false charge concerning her chastity.

18. ………

19. It is time to recall the observations of this Court
made not so far back in Bharwada Bhognibhai Hirjibhai:
(SCC p.224, para 9)

“In the Indian setting, refusal to act on the testimony of a
victim of sexual assaults in the absence of corroboration as a
rule, is adding insult to injury. Why should the evidence of the
girl or the woman who complains of rape or sexual
molestation be viewed with the aid of spectacles fitted with
lenses tinged with doubt, disbelief or suspicion? To do so is to
justify the charge of male chauvinism in a male dominated
society. We must analyze the argument in support of the need
for corroboration and subject it to relentless and remoreseless
cross-examination. And we must do so with a logical, and not
an opinionated, eye in the light of probabilities with our feet
firmly planted on the soil of India and with our eyes focused
on the Indian horizon. We must not be swept off the feet by
the approach made in the Western World which has its own
social milieu, is own social mores, its own permissive values,
and its own code of life. Corroboration may be considered
essential to establish a sexual offence in the backdrop of the
social ecology of the Western World. It is wholly unnecessary
to import the said concept on a turnkey basis and to
transplant it on the Indian soil regardless of the altogether
different atmosphere, attitudes, mores, responses of the Indian
Society, and its profile. The identities of the two worlds are
different. The solution of problems cannot therefore be
identical.”

Proceeding further this Court said: (SCC pp. 225-26, para 10)

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“Without the fear of making too wide a statement, or of
overstating the case, it can be said that rarely will a girl or a
woman in India make false allegations of sexual
assault ………. The statement is generally true in the context
of the urban as also rural society. It is also by and large true
in the context of the sophisticated, not so sophisticated, and
unsophisticated society. Only very rarely can one conceivably
come across an exception or two and that too possibly from
amongst the urban elites. Because: (1) A girl or a woman in
the tradition bound non-permissive society of India would be
extremely reluctant even to admit that any incident which is
likely to reflect on her chastity had ever occurred. (2) She
would be conscious of the danger of being ostracized by the
society or being looked down by the society including by her
own family members, relatives, friends and neighbours.
(3) She would have to brave the whole world. (4) She would
face the risk of losing the love and respect of her own husband
and near relatives, and of her matrimonial home and
happiness being shattered. (5) If she is unmarried, she would
apprehend that it would be difficult to secure an alliance with
a suitable match from a respectable of an acceptable family.
(6) It would almost inevitably and almost invariably result in
mental torture and suffering to herself. (7) The fear of being
taunted by others will always haunt her. (8) She would feel
extremely embrassed in relating the incident to others being
over powered by a feeling of shame on account of the
upbringing in a tradition-bound society where by and large
sex is taboo. (9) The natural inclination would be to avoid
giving publicity to the incident lest the family name and
family honour is brought into controversy. (10) The parents
of an unmarried girl as also the husband and members of the
husband’s family of a married woman would also more often
than not, want to avoid publicity on account of the fear of
social stigma on the family name and family honour.
(11) The fear of the victim herself being considered to be
promiscuous or in some way responsible for the incident
regardless of her innocence. (12) The reluctance to face
interrogation by the investigating agency, to face the court, to
face the cross-examination by counsel for the culprit, and the
risk of being disbelieved, acts as a deterrent.”

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18] The cross-examination of the prosecutrix is the final

nail in the coffin of the accused. The learned A.P.P. is justified in

contending that the suggestions given to the prosecutrix admit the

presence of the accused on the spot and further the suggestion

admit the act of sexual intercourse. I have extracted the relevant

portion of the cross-examination which supports the submission of

the learned A.P.P. Shri N.B. Jawade.

“Accused no.1 had committed forcible intercourse
for about half an hour. It is not true that when the
accused no.1 was committing sexual intercourse with
me the other accused were looking as to who will come
on the spot. It is true that when the accused no.1 was
committing rape on me I had no clothes on my person.”

“It is true that people had observed me and Sable
while committing sexual intercourse. It is not true that
accused no.1 and 2 were in the mob.”

“It is true that accused no.2 had committed
forcible intercourse with me for about half an hour,
and pressed me on earth. I had no injury. It is not true
that accused no.2 had not committed rape on me.”

19] The learned counsel for the accused contends that the

suggestions put in the cross-examination cannot be used to fill in

the lacuna in the evidence of the prosecution. The proposition

canvassed is well settled. I may only refer to the following

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observations of this Court in Radhesham s/o Govardhan Bhagat vs.

The State of Maharashtra 2000 ALL MR (Cri.) 52:

“Moreover, the suggestions made in the cross
examination of the prosecution witnesses cannot be
used to fill in the gaps in the evidence of the
prosecution. Burden lies on the prosecution to prove the
guilt, of the accused.”

The suggestions given by the defence however, can be

used to lend assurance to the prosecution case. The Hon’ble

Supreme Court made the following observations in Rakesh Kumar

alias Babli vs. State of Haryana AIR 1987 SC 690.

“In his cross-examination, P.W. 4, Sube Singh,
stated that the accused Dharam Vir, was wearing a
shirt of white colour. It was suggested to him on behalf
of the accused that Dharam Vir was wearing a shirt of
cream colour. In answer to that suggestion, P.W. 4 said
“It is not correct that Dharam Vir accused was wearing
a shirt of cream colour and not a white colour at that
time.” The learned Sessions Judge has rightly observed
that the above suggestion at least proves the presence of
accused Dharam Vir, on the spot at the time of
occurrence.”

The observations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court

extracted supra, are referred to and relied upon by the Division

Bench of this Court in Rajesh Namdeo Mhatre v. State of

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Maharashtra 2002 (4) Mh.L.J. 266. The Division Bench after

referring to the observations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in

Rakesh Kumar alias Babli vs. State of Haryana observes thus:

22. The defence in the cross-examination of the
prosecutrix, probably to support their alternative, case
of consent, elicited the following answers to the
questions in the form of suggestions made to the
witness:

“It is not correct to say that on the date of the
incident, also I voluntarily accompanied the two
persons with a view to earn an extra money. It is not
correct to say that those two persons did not threaten
me and intimated and forcibly took me to the terrace.”

“It is not correct to say that I, voluntarily slept on
the terrace and offered myself for sexual intercourse.
I was made to sleep near the tank of water. There were
some scratches on my back. It is not correct to say that
on my own I ran down to the terrace and went to the
R.C.F. police chowky. I narrated the incident to the
R.C.F. Police chowky.”

The prosecution mainly placed reliance on the aforesaid
suggestions made in support of their case.
These suggestions, in our view, lend assurance to the
prosecution case.

20] In my considered view, the prosecution has proved

sexual intercourse. The burden was on the accused to prove that

the prosecutrix consented to the sexual intercourse. This burden

has not been discharged by the accused.

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21] The learned counsel for the accused has relied on the

judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in State of Karnataka vs.

F. Natraj 2015(10) SCALE 495 and in particular paragraph 16

which reads thus:

16. In the present case, the gaps in the evidences of
the prosecutrix and the medical officer make it highly
improbable that sexual intercourse took place. It would
be erroneous to rely upon such discrepant testimonies
and convict the accused. It can thus be stated with
certitude that the solitary evidence of the prosecutrix, in
absence of any corroboration by the medical evidence,
is not of such quality which can be relied upon.
The accused-respondent is, therefore, entitled to benefit
of doubt.

22. The observations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court are in

the context of the finding that the evidence of the prosecutrix is

not reliable. The learned counsel for the accused has also relied on

Alamelu and another v. State, referred to supra. But then, in

Alamelu and another v. State, the prosecution version was found to

be inherently incredible. The prosecutrix was staying with the

accused for some days, both claimed in unison that they were a

married couple, the prosecutrix did not make any complaint nor

did she make any attempt to run away during the period when she

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and the accused were residing with each other. A perusal of

paragraph 46 of the judgment in Alamelu and another v. State

would reveal that the reliance on the said judgment is absolutely

misplaced to the extent the judgment is relied upon to buttress the

submission that the conviction must not be based on the

uncorroborated testimony of the prosecutrix.

23] The reliance on the Narender Kumar vs. State (NCT of

Delhi) 2012 (7) SCC 171 is again misplaced. In the light of the

evidence on record, the testimony of the prosecutrix did not

inspire confidence. The evidence of the prosecutrix was found

suffering from serious infirmities and the prosecutrix made

deliberate improvement on material points, is the finding recorded

by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

24] On a holistic appreciation of the evidence on record,

I have no hesitation in recording a finding that the prosecution,

with the aid of section 114-A of the Evidence Act and explanation

(1) to section 376 (2)(g) of the I.P.C. as the provision then stood,

has proved the offence under section 376 (2)(g) of IPC and under

section 354 read with section 34 of I.P.C. beyond reasonable

doubt.

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25] The appeal is sans merit and is rejected.

26] The bail bond shall stand cancelled.

27] The accused be taken into custody forthwith to serve

the sentence.

JUDGE

NSN

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