Corroboration in sex crimes not mandatory, rules SC

 
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New Delhi, Nov 12 (UNI) In a ruling with wide ramifications for victims of sexual assault, the Supreme Court has ruled that insisting for corroboration from the victim of the rape or of unnatural sex amounts to adding insult to injury.

''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,'' a bench, comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and Lokeshwar Singh Panta, ruled in judgment, delivered on Thursday.

Allowing the appeal of the state of Kerala against the judgment of the state High Court acquitting Kurissum Moottil Antony, convicted by the trial court for subjecting a 10-year-old girl to unnatural sex, the court has restored the order of conviction and sentence passed by the trial court.

''The judicial response to human rights can not be blunted by legal jugglery. To insist on corroboration, except in the rarest of rare cases is to equate one, who is a victim of 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 would not be believed unless it is corroborated in material particulars as in the case of an accomplice to a crime,'' they observed.

Antony was sentenced to a total of sixteen months imprisonment (six months and one year respectively) for the two offences under sections 451 and 377 of the IPC along with a fine of Rs 2000 each for the two offences.

The court noted, with anguish, that it was ''unfortunate that respect for womanhood in our country is on the decline and cases of molestation and rape are steadily growing.'' ''Decency and morality in public and social life can be protected only if courts deal strictly with those who violate social norms.

Why should be the evidence of the girl or woman who complains of rape or sexual molestation be viewed with the aid of spectacles fitted with lenses tinged with doubt, disbelief of suspicion,'' it said, noting that the plea about lack of corroboration has no substance.

The incident took place on November 10, 1986 and the offence was committed in front of the totally paralysed brother of the victim. The Kerala High Court had acquitted the accused on the grounds of lack of corroboration of the allegations made by the victim.

UNI AKS/SC VD BD1030

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