The evidence of a rape victim does not need corroboration, but the credibility and trustworthiness of the victim should also be considered while sentencing an alleged accused, the Bombay High Court said while acquitting a man of robbery and gang rape.
Justice Roshan Dalvi acquitted Shankar Shinde of charges of gangraping two women, saying the evidence of the victims “did not inspire confidence”.
The HC also directed that a gold chain recovered from the accused be sold in the open market and its proceeds deposited with the Legal Services Authority of Maharashtra.
“It is trite to say that the evidence of a victim of rape is required to be accepted by the court without corroboration to see if it is credible, trustworthy, acceptable and inspires confidence. The evidence of both victims is just the contrary,” the court said while acquitting Shinde.
On July 8, 2005, unidentified men allegedly broke into the house of two bar dancers at Lokmanya Nagar in Thane and stole jewellery, valuables and cash worth Rs 92,800. Two of the men then allegedly raped the two women.
The police arrested Shinde, the others were shown as absconding. On June 28, 2006, the Thane sessions court sentenced Shinde to 10 years of rigourous imprisonment. Shinde challenged this in the HC. The prosecution relied mainly on the evidence of the two women.
One of them said the accused had stolen 14 rings, five chains, a mangalsutra, two bangles, a bracelet, cash, a cellphone, necklace etc., all worth Rs 92,800. She also said seven men had entered their house.
Her sister failed to describe what had been stolen from their house except for one gold chain. She also said four men had entered the house.
“The above evidence would show a completely incredible, untrustworthy story of a dishonest case being made out against the accused…. a reading of the entire evidence of one of the sisters shows she is a witness of untruth. Her evidence deserves complete rejection,” Justice Dalvi added.