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Testimony of doctor not essential in rape case: SC
October 02, 2005 17:25 IST
The Supreme Court has ruled that conviction in a rape case can be based on solitary evidence of the victim, with non-examination of doctor in court and non-production of medical report not being grounds to give benefit of doubt to the accused.
"Once the statement of the victim inspires confidence and is accepted by the courts as such, conviction can be based only on solitary evidence of the vivtim and no corroboration would be required unless there are compelling reasons which necessitate the courts for corroboration of her statement," a bench comprising Justice H K Sema and Justice G P Mathur said.
Setting aside a Madhya Pradesh high court order, the bench said "Non-examination of doctor and non-production of doctor's report would not prove fatal to the prosecution case, if the statements of the victim and other prosecution witnesses inspire confidence."
The Madhya Pradesh high court had acquitted a rape accused on the ground that the doctor who had examined the victim was not cross-examined.
"The view taken by the high court, in our view, is perverse, erred in law as well as on fact and contrary to the established law laid down by this court in a catena of decisions," the apex court said.
The bench said the high court committed "grave miscarriage of justice" in recording acquittal of the accused while giving him benefit of doubt for non-examination of the doctor.
The high court had said non-examination of doctor and not providing an opportunity to the accused person to cross-examine the doctor was a fatal one and was a big lacuna in the prosecution case.
The court said minor contradictions or insignificant discrepancies should not be a ground for throwing out an otherwise reliable prosecution case.
The bench said the court while acquitting the accused on benefit of doubt should be cautious to see that the doubt be a "reasonable doubt" and it should not reverse the findings of the guilt on the basis of irrelevant circumstances or mere technicalities.
Speaking on the facts of the case, the court said, "The victim was subjected to cross-examination, but nothing could be elicited to demolish the statement-in-chief."
Maintaining that corroboration of testimony of the victim as a condition for judicial reliance was not a requirment of law, but a guidance of prudence under given facts and circumstance, the bench said the victim's statements were corroborated by those of prosecution witnesses, coupled with the FSL report which has been accepted by the high court.