Victim's version enough to nail accused in sexual assault: HC

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Violence Against Women
Mumbai, June 13: The Bombay High Court has held that in cases of outraging modesty of women, the evidence tendered by the victim should be sufficient to nail the accused and it was not necessary to seek corroboration.

The court observed this while finding a man guilty of outraging the modesty of his brother's wife. In this regard, the Judge relied entirely upon the evidence given by the victim.

"Such evidence can be given only by the victim herself. There is no other to see, depose or corroborate it. There have been divorce proceedings between the complainant and her husband. She was living in the same house with her child. The family members would naturally not help her if such an incident transpired," noted Justice Roshan Dalvi.

The victim has been cross-examined at length. However, no discrepancies were pointed out in her evidence. "No other can depose on her behalf", the Judge noted in her order on June 10.

The court dismissed an appeal filed by Ashok Ghodke against a Pune magistrate's order finding him guilty of outraging the modesty of his sister-in-law.

However, he and other family members had been acquitted of charges of cruelty (section 498A) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of Indian Penal Code.

The high court also upheld the lower court's order of February 24, 2009, rejecting the plea of the accused that there was no independent witness in the case.

"There would be none under such circumstances. Only her (the victim's) little son was present with her. The incident happened after midnight. Hence, the neighbours would be asleep", the judge observed.

"She was not allowed to shout when she tried to shout because the applicant herein closed her mouth. He would have overpowered her. The learned magistrate has rightly observed that multiplication of witnesses is unnecessary and such evidence needs no corroboration of any sort", Justice Dalvi remarked.

The high court held that the magistrate had correctly said that no woman would take recourse to such type of incident to falsely implicate anyone by putting her character at stake.

In fact, in this case the complaint was also under Section 498A and 406 of IPC. This has been prosecuted and the accused acquitted.

Their acquittal of that charge has nothing to do with the proof of the charge against the applicant herein only under section 354 of IPC, Justice Dalvi noted.

She observed that the case of outraging modesty of the victim has to be seen essentially only from her evidence as the incident transpired within the confines of the kitchen in her house though another witness has been examined in that behalf also.

The incident transpired at 1am on October, 21, 2007, when the accused jumped in the victim's bed in the kitchen where she was sleeping with her son.

However, she somehow rescued herself and called her mother-in-law. Rather than helping her, the mother-in-law told her that her husband was going to leave her and that she should assume that her brother-in-law was her husband.

There were strained relations between the victim and her family members. Her husband was having an affair with another woman. He used to come once in a week to the house.

Only her father-in-law was a good person. Hence her mother-in-law did not come to her assistance. She tried to run away outside the house when her brother-in-law and mother-in-law caught her and the latter poured kerosene and both of them beat her.

The victim ran away from their clutches and went to her sister's place to seek shelter. "In fact, the proof of the charge of outraging modesty by the brother-in-law of the victim in view of the strained relations with her husband, and the act of the mother-in-law of the victim in not helping her when she shouted for help but in fact asking her to surrender to her other son shows the mental cruelty also", the judge observed.

Justice Dalvi asked the accused to surrender before the concerned magistrate within six weeks.

 PTI

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