AmitAnand Choudhary

New Delhi
SC: Corroboration Not Mandatory Unless Serious Infirmities Exist

Holding that a “socially sensitised judge“ offers a better and more effective statutory armour than penal provisions to deal with cases of crime against women, the Supreme Court has said that the corroboration of a victim’s statement is not mandatory .An accused can be convicted if the victim’s testimony is “natural and trustworthy“ and does not suffer from serious infirmities, Justice R Banumathi, who was part of the bench that upheld the death sentence to the Nirbhaya rapemurder convicts, said in her verdict in the brutal case that shook the nation.

The court has asked judges to be sensitive during trials for rape cases, and keep in mind the testimony of a survivor as “no self-respecting woman will put her honour at stake by making false allegations of sexual offences against herself“.

“(The) persisting notion that the testimony of the victim has to be corroborated by other evidence must be removed. To equate a rape victim to an accomplice is to add insult to womanhood. Ours is a conservative society and not a permissive society . Ordinarily , a woman, more so, a young wom an, will not stake her reputation by levelling a false charge about her chastity ,“ Justice Banumathi said.

She said the corroboration of a rape survivor’s testimony was not a requirement of law and only a rule of prudence, and courts should not insist on it. “There is no rule of law that the testimony of the prosecutrix cannot be acted upon without corroboration in material particulars. She stands at a higher pedestal than an injured witness,“ she said, add ing, “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 .“

“A socially sensitised judge, in our opinion, is a better statutory armour in cases of crime against women than long clauses of penal provisions, containing complex exceptions and provisos,“ she said while referring to an earlier verdict of the apex court.

Man gets death for minor’s rape-murder

An Alipurduar court on Saturday awarded death sentence to a man convicted of raping and murdering a class VI student four years ago.

Additional chief judicial magistrate of Alipurduar A K Pal sentenced Albert Toppo to death for raping and killing the girl in 2013, according to the ACJM court. The accused had tied the victim’s body to tea bushes. TNN