Delhi High Court: Rape Survivor’s Account Enough For Conviction
In a case of a father accused of raping his own minor daughter, Delhi High Court observed that the testimony of the the female survivor of rape if found reliable can be ‘sole ground for conviction’. It upheld the verdict given by the trial court which pronounced seven years of rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of Rs 5,000, under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. The Delhi High Court also upheld five years of rigorous imprisonment for a period of five years along with a fine of Rs 5,000 under IPC against the father named Jitendra Kumar who raped his daughter. The girl was eight years old at the time of crime.
The father submitted that the Forensic Science Report, as well as the Medical report, were not conclusive. He depended upon the absence of any ‘fresh external injury’ on the victim to refute the allegations. However, the prosecution iterated that the survivor was a minor girl at the time of the incident and there was no reason to disbelieve her testimony which implicated her father. Prosecution also told the bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Manoj Ohri that the medical report showed that the victim’s hymen was ruptured because of sexual assault perpetrated by her father and the testimony of the victim was reliable and trustworthy.
“..the sole testimony of the prosecutrix if found reliable, can be the sole ground for convicting the accused; and that the credit-worthy testimony of the victim in cases of such nature deserves acceptance,” the bench observed, Bar And Bench reported.
It denied the father’s contention that the victim’s testimony was inconsistent and stated that ‘subtle variation’ in the testimony of a minor was ‘understandable’.
“There is no force in this contention as the victim was only 8 years old when she was examined and the subtle variation that exists is understandable in the testimony of an eight-year-old child, who is grappling to comprehend the complexity and enormity of what has actually happened with her,” the court recorded.
The accused father had filed an appeal in the Delhi HC and argued that he was falsely implicated in the case at the instance of the mother who had filed the complained against him at the first place after she found bloodstain on her daughter’s underwear. The mother, in her complaint, said that the father had raped his minor daughter and also threatened her not to tell anything to anyone or else she would be killed. She also confessed that she reported the incident after her elder daughter also disclosed that the father had sexually abused her too.
After the hearing in the case started in the trial court, the mother turned hostile and despite that the minor girl gave her testimony in which she mentioned being sexually harassed by the father. On the basis of the testimony, the trial court convicted the accused under Section 10 read with Section 9 of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 and Section 328 of the Indian Penal Code.
“Let it not be forgotten that this is a case of rape on a girl child, only 08 years old at the time of commission of the offence, by her own father. Nothing can be more heinous than a crime committed on the person of a child by her father, the one who is duty-bound to provide her unflinching protection from all harm”
During the trial in Delhi High Court, the mother deposed that the accused father did not do anything wrong with his daughters and that he “only gave two or three slaps to them”. It was claimed that the mother went to the police station and told them about the harassment caused by her husband after a quarrel took place between them. It was further claimed that the police did not record her statement in a correct manner.
Stressing on the child’s testimony, the court noted that “The testimony unequivocally reveals that the commission of the offence by the appellant is described in clear and unambiguous words and her testimony has remained consistent during cross-examination.” It viewed that the father’s ‘bald defence’ of being falsely implicated was not made out. Referring on the issue of the allegedly inconclusive medical and forensic report, the court stated that corroboration of the testimony of the rape survivor, is not an essential requirement in a case of rape.
“Further, let it not be forgotten that this is a case of rape on a girl child, only 08 years old at the time of commission of the offence, by her own father. Nothing can be more heinous than a crime committed on the person of a child by her father, the one who is duty-bound to provide her unflinching protection from all harm,” said the bench dismissing the father’s plea.