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SC: Rape survivor can be prosecuted for turning hostile

September 30, 2018 05:57 AM


SC: Rape survivor can be prosecuted for turning hostile

New Delhi:

A rape survivor can be prosecuted for “turning hostile” to protect the accused as the judiciary cannot be a mute spectator when the victim in a criminal offence compromises to protect the perpetrator of a crime, the Supreme Court has said.

A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Navin Sinha and K M Joseph said an accused can be convicted — even after the rape survivor gave a clean chit — on the basis of other evidence, including medical report. It awarded a 10-year jail term to an accused in a rape case despite the survivor taking the stand that she was not raped.

“A criminal trial is but a quest for truth. The nature of inquiry and evidence required will depend on the facts of each case. The presumption of innocence will have to be balanced with rights of the victim, and above all the societal interest for preservation of the rule of law,” the bench said.

The judges said neither the accused nor victim can be permitted to subvert a criminal trial by “stating falsehood and resorting to contrivances as this will become the theatre of the absurd”. They added, “Dispensation of justice in a criminal trial is a serious matter and cannot be allowed to become a mockery by simply allowing prime prosecution witnesses to turn hostile as a ground for acquittal.”

However, the court decided not to prosecute the survivor keeping in mind she was nine at the time of the assault and the crime had occurred 14 years ago.

Newlywed alleges gang rape by tantriks, bros-in-law
A newlywed woman from Haryana’s Kurukshetra was allegedly gang-raped by her two brothers-in-law and four tantriks in Yamunanagar district for three days after her wedding on September 12. Police have booked the six accused along with the woman’s husband and parents-in-law for gang rape and criminal intimidation, but no arrests have been made so far. The survivor alleged that she was fed an intoxicant on the first night after the wedding and was gang-raped by her two brothers-in-law, who continued raping her the next day too. P 6

Chandrachud: A poster boy for liberals

Almost a decade ago, as a judge of the Bombay high court, he had in a concurring view in an order that set aside the state’s suspension of a movie screening, said, “Governance in civil society must thrive by the expression of dissent as much as democracy thrives by the expression of popular support.”

“Dissent is a symbol of vibrant democracy,” he declared once again on Friday, as he differed with Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar in the Elgaar Parishad case.

A graduate of St Stephens and Delhi University’s Campus Law Centre and a doctorate from Harvard, he believes in showing the “human face of law’’ through his verdicts, be it to protect the rights of an adoptive parent or those in same-sex relationships. In his erudite concurring verdict in de-criminalising same-sex consensual intercourse under section 377, he said, “Our ability to recognise others who are different is a sign of our own evolution. We miss the symbols of a compassionate and humane society only at our peril”.

“The duty of a judge is not to merely to see that law is followed but to ensure a just and compassionate outcome,” Justice Chandrachud had in 2016 told TOI just as he was to be sworn in as a SC judge.

He was also part of the SC bench that in March this year recognised living wills. “A right to a dignified existence, the liberty to make decisions and choices and the autonomy of the individual are central to the quest to live a meaningful life,’’ Justice Chandrachud had said.

More recently, he was part of a majority view that opened the Sabarimala temple to women, noting that “exclusion of women from worship is incompatible with dignity, destructive of liberty and a denial of equality of all human beings”.


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