Moti Lal Vs. State of
M.P.  INSC 1133 (15 July 2008)
JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. OF 2008 (Arising out of SLP (Crl) No. 4751 OF
2006) Moti Lal ...Appellant Versus State of M.P. ...Respondent
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
in this appeal is to the judgment of a learned Single Judge of the Madhya
Pradesh High Court at Jabalpur upholding the conviction of the appellant for
offence punishable under Sections 450 and 376(1) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860
(in short the `IPC') and sentence of five years and seven years rigorous
imprisonment respectively and fine of Rs.2,000/- and 1,000/- respectively with
default stipulation as recorded and imposed by the Learned Special Judge
Chhattarpur in Special Case No.33 of 2002. Appellant (hereinafter also referred
to as an `accused') was charged for commission of offences punishable under
Sections 450 and 376(1) IPC and 3(1)(xii) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled
Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, (in short the `Act').
version as unfolded during trial was as follows:
On 17.1.2002 at 1735
hours prosecutrix lodged report at police station Khajuraho to that effect that
on the said date at 11 O'clock she was in the field of Hannu Gadariya at Bhusaur.
The said field was
taken on share basis by her husband, in which gram and wheat were sown. As
usual, she had gone to the field for guarding. One hut was situated there, in
which she lives and cooks and eats food at that place. At the said time she was
alone in the hut. Her husband had gone to village Rajnagar. Accused Motilal
Gadariya who was resident of same village, came there and enquired from her
about her husband Barelal. She told him that he had gone to Rajnagar, and he
went away. She started sweeping with broom, inside the hut. After some time,
Motilal forcibly entered her hut and knocked her down on the floor. He pulled
up her saree and committed sexual intercourse. She kept shouting to break free,
but there was no body. Then he ran away. Being knocked down by Motilal, her
bangle on the right hand had broken and ankle had bruised. When her husband
returned from Rajnagar, she narrated the incident to him. Then she and her
husband went to Hannu Pal and informed him about the incident. Report was lodged
and on the basis of aforesaid facts offences were registered under Sections
452, 376 IPC and Section 3 of the Act. The said First Information Report (in
short the `FIR') was recorded by Sub-Inspector-S.R. Rai (PW 7). The prosecutrix
was sent for medical examination. Dr. Smt. Rama Parihar performed the medical
examination of which the medical examination report is Ex.P.10. The then
Sub-Divisional Officer, Police-S.S. Chahal (PW 11) prepared spot map Exb.P7 of
the place of incident during the investigation and from the place of incident,
pieces of broken bangles found were seized vide seizure Panchnama - Exb. P.5.
On 18.01.2002 the statements of prosecutrix her husband Parelal, Habbu and
Manua were recorded. On 19.1.2002, accused was arrested vide arrest Panchnama
-Exb.P.8 and one of his used underwear which was bearing some stains was seized
vide Seizure Panchnama -Exb.P.6. Accused was sent for medical examination
regarding his capability of performing intercourse. The examination report is
Exb.P.11. After completion of investigation, chargesheet was produced before
Chief judicial Magistrate, Chhatarpur. On 18.2.2002 the case has been committed
from the said court to the Court of Sessions. Considering the evidence more
particularly of the prosecutrix conviction was recorded. Accused preferred an
appeal before the High Court.
The High Court on
considering the evidence given by the prosecution came to hold that the accused
was guilty of the offences punishable under Sections 376 and 450 IPC. The
appeal was accordingly dismissed.
4. In support of the
appeal, learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the prosecution
version has not been established. The uncorroborated version of the prosecutrix
should not have been relied upon by the trial court and the High Court. It was
also submitted that the punishment is harsh.
5. Learned counsel
for the State on the other hand supported the judgments of the trial court and
the High Court.
6. In the Indian
Setting refusal to act on the testimony of the victim of sexual assault in the
absence of corroboration as a rule, is adding insult to injury. A girl or a
woman in the tradition bound non-permissive society of India would be extremely
reluctant even to admit that any incident which is likely to reflect on her chastity
had ever occurred. She would be conscious of the danger of being ostracized by
the society and when in the face of these factors the crime is brought to
light, there is inbuilt assurance that the charge is genuine rather than
fabricated. Just as a witness who has sustained an injury, which is not shown
or believed to be self-inflicted, is the best witness in the sense that he is
least likely to exculpate the real offender, the evidence of a victim of sex
offence is entitled to great weight, absence of corroboration notwithstanding.
A woman or a girl who is raped is not an accomplice. Corroboration is not the
sine qua non for conviction in a rape case. The observations of Vivian Bose, J.
in Rameshwar v. The State of Rajasthan (AIR 1952 SC 54) were:
rule, which according to the cases has hardened into one of law, is not that
corroboration is essential before there can be a conviction but that the
necessity of corroboration, as a matter of prudence, except where the
circumstances make it safe to dispense with it, must be present to the mind of
is settled law that the victim of sexual assault is not treated as accomplice
and as such, her evidence does not require corroboration from any other
evidence including the evidence of a doctor. In a given case even if the doctor
who examined the victim does not find sign of rape, it is no ground to
disbelieve the sole testimony of the prosecutrix. In normal course a victim of
sexual assault does not like to disclose such offence even before her family
members much less before public or before the police. The Indian women has
tendency to conceal such offence because it involves her prestige as well as
prestige of her family. Only in few cases, the victim girl or the family
members has courage to go before the police station and lodge a case. In the
instant case the suggestion given on behalf of the defence that the victim has
falsely implicated the accused does not appeal to reasoning. There was no
apparent reason for a married woman to falsely implicate the accused after
scatting her own prestige and honour.
late, crime against women in general and rape in particular is on the increase.
It is an irony that while we are celebrating women's rights in all spheres, we
show little or no concern for her honour. It is a sad reflection on the
attitude of indifference of the society towards the violation of human dignity
of the victims of sex crimes. We must remember that a rapist not only violates
the victim's privacy and personal integrity, but inevitably causes serious
psychological as well as physical harm in the process. Rape is not merely a
physical assault -- it is often destructive of the whole personality of the
victim. A murderer destroys the physical body of his victim, a rapist degrades
the very soul of the helpless female. The Court, therefore, shoulders a great
responsibility while trying an accused on charges of rape. They must deal with
such cases with utmost sensitivity. The Courts should examine the broader
probabilities of a case and not get swayed by minor contradictions or
insignificant discrepancies in the statement of the prosecutrix, which are not
of a fatal nature, to throw out an otherwise reliable prosecution case. If
evidence of the prosecutrix inspires confidence, it must be relied upon without
seeking corroboration of her statement in material particulars. If for some
reason the Court finds it difficult to place implicit reliance on her
testimony, it may look for evidence which may lend assurance to her testimony,
short of corroboration required in the case of an accomplice. The testimony of
the prosecutrix must be appreciated in the background of the entire case and
the trial Court must be alive to its responsibility and be sensitive while
dealing with cases involving sexual molestations. This position was highlighted
in State of Punjab v. Gurmeet Singh (1996 (2) SCC 384).
prosecutrix of a sex-offence cannot be put on par with an accomplice. She is in
fact a victim of the crime. The Evidence Act nowhere says that her evidence
cannot be accepted unless it is corroborated in material particulars. She is
undoubtedly a competent witness under Section 118 and her evidence must receive
the same weight as is attached to an injured in cases of physical violence. The
same degree of care and caution must attach in the evaluation of her evidence
as in the case of an injured complainant or witness and no more. What is
necessary is that the Court must be conscious of the fact that it is dealing
with the evidence of a person who is interested in the outcome of the charge
levelled by her. If the Court keeps this in mind and feels satisfied that it
can act on the evidence of the prosecutrix. There is no rule of law or practice
incorporated in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (in short `Evidence Act') similar
to illustration (b) to Section 114 which requires it to look for corroboration.
If for some reason the Court is hesitant to place implicit reliance on the
testimony of the prosecutrix it may look for evidence which may lend assurance to
her testimony short of corroboration required in the case of an accomplice. The
nature of evidence required to lend assurance to the testimony of the
prosecutrix must necessarily depend on the facts and circumstances of each
case. But if a prosecutrix is an adult and of full understanding the Court is
entitled to base a conviction on her evidence unless the same is own to be
infirm and not trustworthy. If the totality of the circumstances appearing on
the record of the case discloses that the prosecutrix does not have a strong
motive to falsely involve the person charged, the Court should ordinarily have
no hesitation in accepting her evidence. This position was highlighted in State
of Maharashtra v. Chandraprakash Kewalchand Jain (1990 (1) SCC 550).
needs no emphasis that the physical scar on a rape victim may heal up, but the
mental scar will always remain.
When a woman is
ravished, what is inflicted is not merely physical injury but the deep sense of
some deathless shame.
An accused cannot
cling to a fossil formula and insist on corroborative evidence, even if taken
as a whole, the case spoken to by the victim strikes a judicial mind as
probable. Judicial response to human rights cannot be blunted by legal
measure of punishment in a case of rape cannot depend upon the social status of
the victim or the accused. It must depend upon the conduct of the accused, the
state and age of the sexually assaulted female and the gravity of the criminal
act. Crimes of violence upon women need to be severely dealt with. The
socio-economic status, religion, race, caste or creed of the accused or the
victim are irrelevant considerations in sentencing policy. Protection of
society and deterring the criminal is the avowed object of law and that is required
to be achieved by imposing an appropriate sentence.
The sentencing Courts
are expected to consider all relevant facts and circumstances bearing on the
question of sentence and proceed to impose a sentence commensurate with the
gravity of the offence. Courts must hear the loud cry for justice by the
society in cases of the heinous crime of rape on innocent helpless girls of
tender years, married women and respond by imposition of proper sentence.
Public abhorrence of the crime needs reflection through imposition of
appropriate sentence by the Court. There are no extenuating or mitigating
circumstances available on the record which may justify imposition of any
sentence less than the prescribed minimum.
To show mercy in the
case of such a heinous crime would be a travesty of justice and the plea for
leniency is wholly misplaced.
evidence on record is analysed on the basis of the principles set out above.
The inevitable conclusion is that the accused has been rightly convicted and
sentenced. Impugned judgment does not warrant any interference.
appeal stands dismissed.
ARIJIT PASAYAT) ..............................J.