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Don't Doubt A Rape Survivor's Testimony, Says Supreme Court

The court said that evidence should be acted upon without corroboration.

23/12/2016 8:15 AM IST | Updated 23/12/2016 9:37 AM IST
Ramesh Lalwani

The Supreme Court said in a judgement on Thursday that the testimony of a rape survivor should not be looked upon with doubt nor should a rape survivor be asked to corroborate evidence. A bench of Justices AK Sikri and AM Sapre said that such corroboration should only be done in the rarest of rare cases.

According to the Times of India, the order written by Justice Sikri says, "Seeking corroboration to a statement before relying upon the same as a rule, in such cases, would literally amount to adding insult to injury. The deposition of the prosecutrix has, thus, to be taken as a whole. Needless to reiterate that the victim of rape is not an accomplice and her evidence can be acted upon without corroboration. She stands at a higher pedestal than an injured witness does."

According to reports, the Supreme Court passed the judgement overturning an order by the Himachal Pradesh High Court that in turn had set aside a fast-track court order convicting a man of rape on the basis of a complaint made three years after the incident had happened.

Questioning the biases often associated with rape cases the apex court, as quoted by the Hindustan Times observed, "Why should the evidence of the girl or woman who complains of rape or sexual molestation be viewed with the aid of spectacles fitted with lenses tinged with doubt, disbelief or suspicion."

The court, according to the Times of India also questioned the Himachal Pradesh High Court judgement saying, "A decision to lodge FIR becomes more difficult and hard when accused happens to be a family member. In fact, incestuous abuse is still regarded as a taboo to be discussed in pubic. This reticence hurts the victims or other family members who struggle to report. After all, in such a situation, not only the honour of the family is at stake, it may antagonize other relations as well."

The accused in question has been sent to 12 years in prison for repeatedly raping his 9-year-old niece.

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