Krishan Lal Vs. State of Haryana
 INSC 62 (1 April 1980)
VENKATARAMIAH, E.S. (J)
CITATION: 1980 AIR 1252 1980 SCR (3) 305 1980
SCC (3) 159
CITATOR INFO :
F 1983 SC 911 (9)
Indian Penal Code 1860 (XLV of 1860) Section
376-Rape on young girl-Necessity of corroboration of girl's testimony-Nature
and extent of corroboration necessary.
The prosecution alleged that a girl below 16
years of age was sleeping outside her house with her family and that the
petitioner in the company of another (acquitted accused) carried her away under
intimidation to a neighbouring godown belonging to another acquitted accused
and in that secluded venue committed rape on the young woman and afterwards put
her back on her cot.
The trial court convicted the petitioner but
on grounds of benefit of doubt acquitted the other accused. The High Court
affirmed this order.
In the special leave petition to this Court,
it was contended on behalf of the petitioner that the evidence of the
prosecutrix without substantial corroboration, was inadequate to rest a
conviction under section 376 IPC.
Dismissing the special leave petition,
HELD 1. To forsake vital consideration and go
by obsolete demands for substantial corroboration is to sacrifice commonsense
in favour of an artificial concoction called 'judicial' probability. [308A]
2. Human psychology and behavioural
probability must be borne in mind when assessing the testimonial potency of the
victim's version. What girl would foster rape charges on a stranger unless a
remarkable set of facts or cleanest motives are made out? The inherent
bashfulness, the innocent naivete and the feminine tendency to conceal the
outrage of masculine sexual aggression are factors which are relevant to
improbabilise the hypothesis of false implication. The injury on the person of
the victim has corroborative value.
3. The court loses its credibility if it
rebels against realism. The law court is not an unnatural world. [308 B]
4. Merely because the trial court has
ultra-cautiously acquitted someone, the higher court must, for that reason,
cannot acquit everyone. [308C]
5. A socially sensitized judge is a better
statutory armour against gender outrage than long clauses of a complex section
with all the protections writ into it. [308C]
6. Observation on probative force of
circumstances are not universal laws of nature but guidelines and good counsel.
[307 F] Gurcharan Singh v. State of Haryana AIR 1972 SC 2661 referred to.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Special
Leave Petition (Crl.) 2599 of 1979.
From the Judgment and Order dated 9-7-1979 of
the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Crl.A. 1228/1976.
S. K Sabharwal and R.C. Kohli for the
The order of the Court was delivered by,
KRISHNA IYER, J, A rapist-if the concurrent findings of the courts below were
correct has chosen to seek special leave to challenge his crime and punishment,
and his counsel has attacked the verdict of culpability as wholly unfounded.
Indeed, it is redundant, and absent
exceptional circumstances, out of bounds, for this Court, exercising its
jurisdiction under Art. 136, to launch upon an exploration and re-appreciation
of the evidence, its strengths and weaknesses with a view to sit in judgment
over the holdings of the High Court in affirmance of those of the trial Court.
Briefly, we will touch upon one or two
circumstances without claiming to be exhaustive in any manner. One Shashi Bala
of Ambala was sleeping, with her mother and other children, outside her house
in hot July (1975). The petitioner, in the company of another (acquitted
accused), carried her away under intimidation to a neighbouring godown
belonging to one Tilak Raj (another acquitted accused) and in that secluded
venue committed rape on the young women.
After subjecting her to these beasteal acts
of lust, Shashi Bala, who by then was nearly unconscious, was put back in her
cot from where she had been removed. In the morning, the mother of the victim
found blood on the daughter's salwar and thereupon she complainingly narrated
the criminal assault of the previous night. On the return of the father, P.W.
7, who had been away, the victim went, in his company, to the police station,
lodged a report which was followed by investigation and charge-sheet. The
Court, after a trial, convicted the present petitioner but, on grounds of
benefit of doubt, acquitted the rest. Medical evidence showed that the raped
girl was below 16 years of age. We are not too happy about the acquittal but
since the State has not chosen to come up in appeal against the acquittal, we
do not probe the matter further.
Counsel for the petitioner persistently urged
that the evidence of the prosecutrix, without substantial corroboration, was
inadequate to rest a conviction under s.
376 I.P.C. He relied on observations of this
Court in Gurucharan Singh v. State of Haryana for the pro- 307 position that
although a prosecutrix is not an accomplice, her evidence, as a rule of
prudence, is viewed by courts unfavourably unless reinforced by corroboration
"so as to satisfy its conscience that she is telling the truth and that
the present accused of rape on her has not been falsely implicated". It is
true that old English cases, followed in British Indian courts, had led to a
tendency on the part of judge made law that the advisability of corroboration
should be present to the mind of the Judge "except where the circumstance
make it safe to dispense with it". Case-law, even in those days, had
clearly spelt out the following propositions:
"The tender years of the child, coupled
with other circumstances appearing in the case, such, for example as its
demeanour, unlikelihood of tutoring and so forth, may render corroboration
unnecessary but that is a question of fact in every case. The only rule of law
is that this rule of prudence must be present to the mind of the judge or the
jury as the case may be and be understood and appreciated by him or them. There
is no rule of practice that there must, in every case, be corroboration before
a conviction can be allowed, to stand." "It would be impossible,
indeed it would be dangerous to formulate the kind of evidence which should, or
would, be regarded as corroboration. Its nature and extent must necessarily
vary with circumstances of each case and also according to the particular
circumstances of the offence charged." Observations on probative force of
circumstances are not universal laws of nature but guidelines and good counsel.
We must bear in mind human psychology and
behavioural probability when assessing the testimonial potency of the victim's
version. What girl would foist a rape charge on a stranger unless a remarkable
set of facts or clearest motives were made out? The inherent bashfulness, the
innocent naivete and the feminine tendency to conceal the outrage of masculine
sexual aggression are factors which are relevant to improbabilise the
hypothesis of false implication. The injury on the person of the victim,
especially her private parts, has corroborative value. Her complaint to her parents
and the presence of blood on her clothes are also testimony which warrants
credence. More than all, it baffles belief in human nature that a girl sleeping
with her mother and other children in the open will come by blood on her
garments and injury in her private parts unless she has been subjected to the
torture of rape.
And if rape has been committed, 308 as
counsel more or less conceded, why, of all persons in the world, should the
victim hunt up the petitioner and point at him the accusing finger? To forsake
these vital considerations and go by obsolescent demands for substantial
corroboration is to sacrifice commonsense in favour of an artificial concoction
called 'Judicial' probability. Indeed, the court loses its credibility if it
rebels against realism. The law court is not an unnatural world.
We are not satisfied that merely because the
trial court has ultra-cautiously acquitted someone, the higher court must, for
that reason, acquit everyone, Reflecting on this case we feel convinced that a
socially sensitised judge is a better statutory armour against gender outrage
than long clauses of a complex section with all the protections writ into it.
N.V.K. Petition dismissed.