New Delhi, Sept. 19: The Supreme Court today ruled that although an alleged rape victim’s version “commands great respect and acceptability”, it cannot be accepted without corroboration if there is any “doubt in the mind of the court”.
It acquitted rape convict Kaini Rajan — whose seven-year term, awarded by the Kasaragod court, was upheld by Kerala High Court — ruling that the complainant had had a consensual affair with him.
“The version of (the) victim in rape commands great respect and acceptability but, if there are some circumstances which cast some doubt in the mind of the court of the veracity of the (alleged) victim’s evidence, then it is not safe to rely on the uncorroborated version of the (alleged) victim of rape,” the bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and A.K. Sikri said in their judgment.
According to the prosecution, the complainant was heading for a khadi centre from her home at about 8.30am on September 17, 1997, when Rajan, a friend of her brother, dragged her to a nearby property belonging to a man named Karunakaran and raped her.
The woman claimed the accused had dissuaded her from calling for help by promising to marry her. Thereafter, she said, he regularly had sex with her, resulting in her delivering a child on June 24, 1998.
After the child was born, her parents lodged a police complaint against Rajan for rape. The trial court decided that the woman’s post-rape consent should not count.
Upholding Rajan’s appeal, the apex court noted that the stated time of the alleged rape was “8.30am in daylight” and the stated spot was located on the side of a public road, “not within the four walls of a house or a building”.
It made the following points:
• The accused was not a stranger, “or else, in all probability, she (the complainant) would have resisted forcefully, attracting passers-by or people from the neighbourhood”.
• The paternity of the child is disputed by the accused.
• The FIR was lodged 10 months after the date of the alleged rape.
• The “behaviour of the parents” of the complainant appeared to be “strange”.
“They (the parents) stated that they came to know about the relations between the appellant and the prosecutrix (complainant) when they found her pregnant. (The) prosecutrix had told them that the appellant had agreed to marry her,” the court said.
“They knew the appellant and his family already. However, there is not even a whisper that they approached the appellant or his family members for marrying the prosecutrix. They straightaway went to the police station… that too after the birth of the child. All these factors cast a doubt on the prosecution version.”