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Evidence of a victim of a sex-offence is entitled to great weight, in absence of corroboration notwithstanding.”

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NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK

Bharwada Bhoginbhai Hirjibhai v State of Gujarat Citations: 1983 AIR 753, 1983 SCR (3) 280

Herein the appellant had, as the Supreme Court observed, behaved in a shockingly indecent manner. He misused his position as a father of a girl friend of the victims, who were visiting his house unhesitatingly because of the fact that his daughter was their friend. To have misused this position and to-have tricked them into entering the house, and to have taken undue advantage of the situation by subjecting them to sexual harassment is a crime of which a serious view must be taken.  On the basis of minor discrepancies the Court did not open the evidence again, and observed as follows:

(1) By and large a witness cannot be expected topossess a photographic memory  and to recallthe details of an incident.
(2)  Ordinarily the occurrence, so often having an element of surprise, “the mentalfaculties therefore  cannot be expected to beattuned to absorb the details.”
(3) The powers of observation differ from personto person.
(4) By and large people cannot accurately recalla conversation and reproduce     the very wordsused by them or heard by them.
(5) In regard to exact    time of an incident, orthe time duration of an occurrence, usually,people make their estimates by guess work onthe spur of the moment.
(6) Ordinarily a     witness cannot     be expected to recall accurately the sequence of     events and may getconfused, or mixed up when interrogated lateron.
(7) A witness, though wholly truthful, is liableto be     overawed by the court     atmosphere andthe piercing      cross  examination   made bycounsel and out of nervousness mix up facts,get confused regarding sequence of events, orfill up details from imagination on the spurof the moment. Discrepancies which do not go to the root of the matterand shake the basic version of the    witnesses therefore cannot be annexed with     undue importance.  More so when theall-important “probabilities-factor” echoes in favour of theversion narrated by the witnesses.

Further, on corroboration, the SC stated that “Why should the evidence of     the girl or the woman who complains of rape     or sexual molestation be viewed with     the aid ofspectacles fitted with lenses    tinged with doubt, disbelief or suspicion? To do so is to justify the charge of malechauvinism in a male dominated society.” It also straightforwardly commented that “On principle the evidenceof a victim of sexual assault stands on par with evidence ofan injured witness. Just as a witness who has sustained aninjury (which is not shown or believed to be self inflicted)is the    best witness in the sense that he is least likely toexculpate the real offender, the

The Court also discussed the factors due to which a woman would not want to bring to fore a false case that she has been sexually wronged and stated that “…it can be said that rarely  will a  girl or  a woman  in India     make  false allegations of    sexual assault on account of any such factor…”.

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