Rape survivors should not be insisted for corroboration, says Supreme Court

The Supreme Court said on Thursday that courts should not harass a rape survivor by asking her to corroborate her allegation if her testimony is trustworthy as it not only adds insult to her injury but is also an affront to womanhood.
Rape survivors should not be insisted for... Source: REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE
India TV News Desk New Delhi December 23, 2016 11:42 IST

The Supreme Court said on Thursday that courts should not harass a rape survivor by asking her to corroborate her allegation if her testimony is trustworthy as it not only adds insult to her injury but is also an affront to womanhood.

A bench headed by Justices A K Sikri and A M Sapre, while convicting a man of raping her niece, said that the testimony of a victim in cases of sexual offences is vital and the accused can be convicted solely on the basis of her statements. 

The bench further stated that the courts could sought corroboration of her statements only in rarest of rare case and when there were compelling reasons to do so. 

 

“Seeking corroboration to a statement before relying upon the same as a rule, in such cases, would literally amount to adding insult to injury. The deposition of the prosecutrix has, thus, to be taken as a whole. Needless to reiterate that the victim of rape is not an accomplice and her evidence can be acted upon without corroboration. She stands at a higher pedestal than an injured witness does,” Times of India quoted the bench as saying. 

 

The apex court called for a reform in the criminal justice system to make it survivor-centric.

During the hearing, reports were quoted to point out that in more than 80 per cent of such abuses, perpetrators have acquaintance with the victims. And, in such cases it’s difficult to report to the police since the family lives in constant fear of attracting social stigma.

“If the court finds it difficult to accept her version, it may seek corroboration from some evidence which lends assurance to her version.

 

To insist on corroboration, except in the rarest of rare cases, is to equate one who is a victim of the lust of another with an accomplice to a crime and thereby insult womanhood. It would be adding insult to injury to tell a woman that her claim of rape will not be believed unless it is corroborated in material particulars, as in the case of an accomplice to a crime,” added the bench. 

The bench passed the order while sentencing a man to twelve years of imprisonment for raping his nine-year-old niece. The top court reversed the Himachal Pradesh high court order that overturned a fast-track court’s verdict convicting the man.

 
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