Survivor’s testimony, if credible, strongest evidence, SC has said

Written By kom nampultig on Sabtu, 26 Juli 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A complaint of rape almost six months after the alleged crime means the case is tough for investigators as well as courts because corroborative evidence is that much more difficult to get with the passage of time, say lawyers.

In this scenario, the survivor's testimony plays a crucial role. The Supreme Court has held that a rape complainant's testimony, if found to be cogent, convincing and trustworthy, is enough to establish guilt even in the absence of medical or other corroborative evidence.

An FIR was filed on Thursday after a small-time model accused DIG Sunil Paraskar of repeatedly raping her between December 2013 and January 2014.

For such a case, advocate Nusrat Shah, a criminal lawyer, said "police must investigate the case and can file a chargesheet only on merit".

There might be call records to show if the accused and complainant were in a relationship or total strangers when the alleged rapes took place. But key is the complainant's testimony. If it doesn't crumble during cross-examination and is found to be honest, then even if medical proof or digital evidence or photographs are not strong, the case will not be weakened.

A police officer said in such cases, investigators usually find it difficult to establish rape (because of the possibility of consensual sex) and cases often go in favour of the accused. "The rape survivor also often does not cooperate," said the officer. But there are cases where courts have acted relying only on forensic evidence even when the woman has resiled from her allegations.

Lawyers feel stress must be put on finding out why the complainant stayed mum for so long — was it duress or was the rape tag being attached after consensual sex. "At the same time, it is important to find out how and why such serious allegations have been made against a top police officer and a scientific investigation will provide a conclusive answer to these questions," said advocate Aabad Ponda.

If the model's statement is found to be strong, "the cops must go ahead with prosecution since it is a police officer against whom the charges are filed and the courts would need to apply the law strictly against a law-enforcer", said Shah.

If a police officer probing a case or trying to help a woman who sought assistant is accused, it means the cop allegedly committed the crime while
discharging his duty thus the punishment would be higher, may be even life imprisonment, said a lawyer.

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