There can be a conviction based on the sole testimony of the sexual assault victim if she is found to be reliable and trustworthy, the Supreme Court has reiterated while upholding conviction in a POCSO case.
Ganesan was convicted for Sexual assaulting a girl aged 13 years, and was sentenced to undergo three years rigorous imprisonment. Before the Apex Court, he contended that the Trial Court committed a grave error in convicting the accused, relying upon the sole testimony of the victim. It was pointed out that the mother of the victim did not support the case of the prosecution and even did not support the deposition of the victim.
Perusing the case records, the bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, MR Shah and R. Subhash Reddy noted that, though the mother of the victim had turned hostile, the victim had fully supported the case of the prosecution.
"She has narrated in detail how the incident has taken place. She has been thoroughly and fully cross-examined. We do not see any good reason not to rely upon the deposition of PW3 – victim. PW3 aged 15 years at the time of deposition is a matured one. She is trustworthy and reliable. As per the settled proposition of law, even there can be a conviction based on the sole testimony of the victim, however, she must be found to be reliable and trustworthy.", the bench said.
The court particularly referred to the decision in Vijay alias Chinee v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (2010) 8 SCC 191 in which the court had examined whether in the case involving sexual harassment, molestation etc., can there be conviction on the sole evidence of the prosecutrix?
Referring to some precedents and also the evidence on record, the bench said that the sole testimony of the victim is absolutely trustworthy and unblemished and her evidence is of sterling quality. Refusing to interfere with sentence, the bench further observed that allegations against the accused which are proved from the deposition of are very serious, which cannot be permitted in the civilized society.
Case : Ganesan vs. State [CRIMINAL APPEAL No. 680 of 2020]
Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan, MR Shah and R. Subhash Reddy