It is not safe to base a conviction on the sole testimony of a witness, if it is not corroborated by other evidence, the Bombay high court has held.
The court said that even though “there is no doubt that conviction can be based on the sole testimony of a witness, such a witness’ statement is required to be found cogent, reliable and trustworthy.” The court made these observations while acquitting an accused convicted for attempt to rape charges in 2004.
In the particular case, where the appellant, Jagdish Narangikar, was convicted to life for allegedly attempting to rape a minor girl, the court noted that “the evidence of the complainant is not of such nature that would inspire confidence and can be said to be cogent, trustworthy and reliable, so as to base conviction solely on the basis of the same, without there being corroboration,” a division bench of justice BR Gavai and justice Shrihari Davare said.
According to the prosecution, the complainant was standing with her two daughters, when the accused, their neighbour, approached her and said that he would take her two-year-old daughter for a walk and bring her back. The prosecution alleged that the accused then took the victim to his home and attempted to rape her, based on which the FIR was lodged. The incident occurred in September 2002.
The court noted that the medical report did not disclose rape. Also, since the mother reported the incident four days later, considerable time had lapsed when the medical test was done. The court also called the complainant’s conduct ‘unnatural’, as she did not take prompt action, despite knowing that her daughter was in the accused’s house and was not responding to her calls.
The court accepted the argument of defence advocate and amicus curie, Arfan Sait, that the accused was falsely implicated on account of a monetary dispute between the mother of the accused and the complainant.