Sunday, February 14, 2010

‘Rape victim’s statement not gospel’

Don’t Presume Victim Is Telling Ultimate Truth: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that in rape cases the testimony of the victim cannot be considered to be the gospel truth, though in normal circumstances her statement has to be relied upon.

A bench of justices H S Bedi and J M Panchal said while primacy has to be given to victims statement, there can be no presumption that she is telling the ultimate truth as the charge has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt as in any other criminal case.

The court passed the observation while acquitting one of the three accused Abbas Ahmad Chowdhary charged with raping a minor girl.

It was the case of the prosecution that on September 15, 1997, the accused Md. Mizazul Haq, Abbas Ahmad Chowdhury and one Ranju Das (absconding) had raped the victim after forcibly taking her to a tea estate in Jalalpur. The sessions court in Assam convicted two of the accused Chowdhary and Haq for rape. The Guwhati High Court upheld the conviction following which the duo appealed before the apex court. The apex court, however, gave benefit of doubt to Chowdhary as there were variations in the statements made by the victim.

It must first be borne in mind that in her statement recorded on 17th September, 1997, the prosecutrix had not attributed any rape to Abbas Ahmad Chowdhary. Likewise, she had stated that he was not one of those who kidnapped her and taken to Jalalpur Tea Estate and on the other hand she categorically stated that while she along with Ranju Das were returning to the village he had joined them somewhere along the way but had still not committed rape.

It is true that in her statement in court she has attributed rape to Abbas Ahmad Chowdhary as well, but in the light of the aforesaid contradictions some doubt is created with regard to his involvement. Some corroboration of rape could have been found if Abbas Ahmad Choudhary too had been apprehended and taken to the police sta-tion by Ranjit Dutta the constable, the apex court said.

The apex court pointed out that the victims original statement was corroborated by the investigating officer that only two of the appel-lants Ranju Das and Md Mizalul Haq along with the prosecutrix had been brought to the police station as Abbas Ahmad Chowdhary had run away while en route to the police station.

Resultantly, an inference can be rightly drawn that Abbas Ahmad Chowdhary was perhaps not in the car when the complainant and two of the appellants had been apprehended by constable Ranjit Dutta. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the involvement of Abbas Ahmad Chowdhary is doubtful, the apex court said.

However, it upheld the conviction of Mizazul Haq and dismissed his appeal. PTI

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