The Hon’ble Supreme Court vide its judgement dated 14.10.2020 held that there could be a conviction based on the sole testimony of the sexual assault victim if she is found to be reliable and trustworthy.
The said judgement was pronounced in an appeal preferred by one Mr. Ganesan, who was tried by the learned Fast Track Mahila Court, Dharmapuri for the offences punishable under Section 7 read with Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 (hereinafter referred as “POCSO Act”). The victim in the present matter, who was 13 years old at the time of commission of the offence accused the Appellant of committing the offence mentioned under Section 7 of POCSO Act. He was thereby convicted and sentenced to three years of imprisonment. The Trial Court also passed an order to pay Rs. 1,00,000 (Rupees One Lakh Only) by way of compensation to the victim.
The Appellant then moved to the Hon’ble High Court of Madrason the grounds ofhis inability to pay the said compensation and pleaded leniency. Only submission in relation to the compensation amount was made by the Appellant. The Hon’ble High Court vide order dated 29.04.2019 allowed the appeal partly and asked the State to pay the compensation to the victim girl and thereafter if the State finds that the accused has got sufficient means, the same can be recovered from the accused under the Recovery Act
Dissatisfied and aggrieved by the said order, the Appellant filed the present case.
Learned Counsel, on behalf of the Appellant submitted that due to the mother of the victim turning hostile and not supporting the deposition of the victim, the Trial Court had committed an error in convicting the Appellant by relying solely on the testimony of the victim. It was further submitted that no sufficient opportunity was given to the accused before passing the impugned judgement and that the High Court passed the order within a period of four days without considering the appeal on merits. Referring to the case of Anokhilal v. State of Madhya Pradesh AIR 2020 SC 232, the Appellant stated that the failure to afford hearing to the accused violates even the minimum standards of the due process of law. Learned Counsel on behalf of the Respondent, on the other hand submitted that it could not be presumed that the trial was not fair since a thorough cross examination of the victim was conducted, there was no reason to doubt the testimony of the victim.
Taking note of the submissions of both the parties, the division bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Subhash Reddy and M.R. Shah held that being 15 years of age and of sound mind, the victim was absolutely reliable.
The Hon’ble bench also emphasized on various precedents while stating that the sole testimony of the victim is absolutely trustworthy and unblemished and her evidence is of sterling quality. Refusing to interfere with High Court sentence, the bench further held that the allegations against the accused which are proved from the deposition of are very serious, which cannot be permitted in any civilised society.
The appeal was thereby dismissed.
Order: Cr. Appeal 680 of 2020