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Shamim Anwar Khan v. State of Maharashtra - (17 Jul 2015)

The perils of condning martyrdom



The Bombay High Court recently convicted a person on the basis of the sole witness testimony of the prosecutrix, an adolescent teen who was raped repeatedly by the accused, and as a result gave birth to a child. Given that the prosecution's case rested heavily on the sole witness testimony of the prosecutrix, the Court was inclined to note, “ there was absolutely no reason for either the Prosecutrix or her mother also to implicate the [accused] falsely, which was as good as breaking their own home and the stability of domestic life”. Of note: the accused was the prosecutrix's step-father, who married her mother after the death of her father.

Relevant : 'Inspiring confidence' is a tag used by courts when they delve into the veracity of a witness statement. With much evidence pointing towards the accused, it was clearly easier for the court to be inspired, particularly considering the uncomfortably claustrophobic facts of the case. But, is it a dangerous precedent? What about situations where the witness statement of an alleged victim of an allegedly heinous crime is not corroborated by a living and breathing bundle of evidence? Self-destruction may have been enough to construe genuineness here, but is it always such a polar fief of right and wrong. Section 498A of the IPC may have begun belatedly with the noblest of intentions, but does an unwillingness to destroy their own home always convince courts of the truth of a dowry complaint? As the incidence of rape cases increases, courts will twiddle in hope that the taking away of some of the stigma does not prompt the more opportunistic to 'self-destroy'.


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