|1992 AIR 1161, 1992 SCR (2) 393
|Year of the Case
|31 March 1992
|The State of Orissa
|Damburu Naiko & Ors.
|Justices K. Ramaswamy & Kuldip Singh
|Indian Penal Code 1860
|Section 34, 366 & 376
The present case was a special leave petition before the honourable supreme court of India challenging the judgment of the high court, which acquitted the accused. The court discusses why there is no need for corroboration to the evidence of the victim in a rape case, the supreme court overruled the judgment rendered by the high court and upheld the judgment of the trial court.
Background of the Case
The amendment of 1983 which inserted Section 114A into the Evidence Act, before this the law practically treated a victim of rape as an accomplice, requiring her testimony to corroborate as a matter of prudence.
However, the law is silent on whether the evidence of the prosecutrix in a rape case needs Corroboration or not the judiciary has been interpreting this issue since decades, for instance, with Sidheswar Ganguly vs. The State Of West Bengal, the supreme court held that insistence on corroboration is advisable but is not compulsory in the law’s eye. In the case the trial court accepted the evidence of the victim and convicted the two respondents and sentenced them to undergo three years’ rigorous imprisonment on each count, further the Sessions Court confirmed the sentences of the two respondents but upon appeal to the high court, the high court acquitted the two respondents. They filed a special leave petition before the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the High Court.
The fateful day of the victim, Bhotruni, along with the other girls, PWs. 2 to 4 went to Papadahandi to witness the festival of Dasahara. At about 4.00 p.m., while they were returning home, PW.1, the victim was ahead of them, and when they arrived inside the forest, the appellants and two others gagged the mouth of PW.1 and kidnapped PW.1 into the forest.
The accused covered her eyes with a piece of cloth and threatened to kill her if she raised a cry. They made her lie down on the ground and raped her one after the other. PWs. 2 to 4 ran back to Papadahandi and reported the incident to the police on duty at the festival, and PW.5, the constable came along with them. They found the victim’s eyes covered with a piece of cloth and she was crying. They took her to Papadahandi; lodged a complaint (Ext. P.1). They arrested the accused on 31 October 1977 in the identification parade conducted by the Executive Magistrate.
The High Court acquitted the respondents because PW.1 would not rely on to identify those respondents and that there was no corroboration for her evidence. There may be several injuries to the victim in case of gang rape is absent. Therefore, she was a consenting party. They placed this issue before the Supreme Court through a special leave petition.
Indian Penal Code, 1860: Sections 34, 366 and 376
- Sections 34 of the Indian penal code lays down that When a criminal act is carried out by a number of persons in support of the common intention of all persons, each of those persons shall be liable for that act in the same way as if it had been done by him alone.
- Sections 366 of the Indian penal code hold liable Whoever kidnaps or abducts any woman with intent to marry any person against her will, or in order that she may be forced or seduced to illicit intercourse, shall be liable for imprisonment which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine
Sections 376 of the Indian penal code lays down the punishment for rape.
- The learned counsel for the respondents contends that the High Court’s reasoning is cogent and that there is no need for interference is absolutely lacking in substance. Although PW.1 was a stranger to the accused, she was the victim of brutal kidnapping and gang rape and it was done in broad daytime.
- Therefore, when the accused abducted her into the forest, she saw them, even though her eyes were later closed with a piece of cloth. When she was forced to lie down on the ground at the risk of her life and the gang rape was committed, she was totally helpless. The medical evidence corroborates that she had been injured on her private parts, and so there is still enough resistance to the gang rape committed one after the other.
- When it was done at the risk of her life, she could not be expected to continue resisting except if she resigned to her fate and succumbed to their assault. The respondents in the identification parade were also identified by PW.1. Since there is no appeal against the others, we do not need to go into their acquittement. But it’s enough to say that she had enough opportunity to identify the people who raped her. It is not necessary for the evidence of the victim of the rape to be corroborated. If her evidence inspires confidence that she is true, it would be sufficient to convict the accused. We need not see corroboration to the evidence of PW.1.
- She was a simple village girl, and she would not leave her own assailants and falsely involve other innocent people with the allegation that she had been raped by them. Even if we try to corroborate the injuries on her private parts; the doctor’s medical evidence and her first information report provide the necessary corroboration. We scanned her evidence carefully. We fully accept her evidence as true. Nor did the High Court make any attempt to deny its evidence on its own merits.
- In these circumstances, the casual and mechanical approach, without regard to human probabilities, and the subsequent acquittement by the High Court, resulted in a serious miscarriage of justice. The approach taken by the High Court shall not be allowed to stand for a moment. The appeal is accordingly allowed. The judgment of the High Court and the order of acquittement of the respondents are set aside. The judgments and convictions and sentences recorded by the trial Court and affirmed by the Sessions Courts are restored and the respondents are to surrender and serve their sentences.
The honorable supreme court in the given case laid down a principle that –
“It is not necessary that there would be corroboration to the evidence of the victim of rape. If her evidence inspires confidence to be truthful that itself would be sufficient to convict the accused.”
The honourable court also gave reasoning for its decision that the victim was a simple village girl, and she would not leave her own assailants and falsely involve other innocent people with the allegation that she had raped by them. The case stands as a landmark and clears the dilemma in need for corroboration for the evidence of the victim in a rape case.