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Report No. 84

II. Complaints

7.5. Complaint (section 8) and the doctrine of "hue and cry".-

On the subject of evidence, we may first mention a rule which is of special relevance to the offence of rape-the rule governing the admissibility of a complaint made by the female soon after an alleged sexual offence. This is based on the principle that the complaint is a part of the same transaction, and also on the reasoning that the law considers a complaint as a natural expression of the feelings of the victim, thereby lending credibility. While, on the one hand, long delay or failure in making the complaint is regarded as a suspicious circumstance, on the other hand, a prompt complaint is regarded as evidence confirming or corroborating the allegation of the victim, and repels any possible doubt that the story was a mere fabrication.

It may be that the rule permitting evidence of complaint is a survival of the ancient requirement that the injured woman should make a "hue and cry"1 as a preliminary to her "appeal of felony".2 But the rule, in its present form, does not operate to the detriment of the female. The rule enables evidence to be given to confirm her credibility, and operates as an exception to the rule against hearsay as incorporated in section 60 of the Evidence Act.

1. See Black Law Dictionary, (1979), p. 667, Left-hand column and stroud Judicial Dictionary, (1972), Vol. 2, p. 1270.

2. As to "appeal of felony", see Stephen History of Criminal Law, Vol. 1, p. 244.

Rape and Allied Offences - Some Questions of Substantive Law, Procedire and Evidence Back

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