It is a settled legal proposition that once the statement of prosecutrix inspires confidence and is accepted by the court as such, conviction can be based only on the solitary evidence of the prosecutrix and no corroboration would be required unless there are compelling reasons which necessitate the court for corroboration of her statement.[1] Corroboration of testimony of the prosecutrix as a condition for judicial reliance is not a requirement of law but a guidance of prudence under the given facts and circumstances. Minor contradictions or insignificant discrepancies should not be a ground for throwing out an otherwise reliable prosecution case. A prosecutrix complaining of having been a victim of the offence of rape is not an accomplice after the crime. Her testimony has to be appreciated on the principle of probabilities just as the testimony of any other witness; a high degree of probability having been shown to exist in view of the subject matter being a criminal charge. However, if the court finds it difficult to accept the version of the prosecutrix on its face value, it may search for evidence, direct or substantial, which may lend assurance to her testimony.[2]

Where evidence of the prosecutrix is found suffering from serious infirmities and inconsistencies with other material, prosecutrix making deliberate improvements on material point with a view to rule out consent on her part and there being no injury on her person even though her version may be otherwise, no reliance can be placed upon her evidence.

The only evidence of rape was the statement of the prosecutrix herself and when this evidence was read in its totality, the story projected by the prosecutrix was so improbable that it could not be believed.[3]

Rajoo & Ors. v. State of Madhya Pradesh[4], the Supreme Court held that ordinarily the evidence of a prosecutrix should not be suspected and should be believed, more so as her statement has to be evaluated on par with that of an injured witness and if the evidence is reliable, no corroboration is necessary. The court however, further observed:

“…….It cannot be lost sight of that rape causes the greatest distress and humiliation to the victim but at the same time a false allegation of rape can cause equal distress, humiliation and damage to the accused as well. The accused must also be protected against the possibility of false implication….. there is no presumption or any basis for assuming that the statement of such a witness is always correct or without any embellishment or exaggeration.”[5]

Tameezuddin @ Tammu v. State (NCT of Delhi)[6]

“It is true that in a case of rape the evidence of the prosecutrix must be given predominant consideration, but to hold that this evidence has to be accepted even if the story is improbable and belies logic, would be doing violence to the very principles which govern the appreciation of evidence in a criminal matter.”

Even in cases where there is some material to show that the victim was habituated to sexual intercourse, no inference of the victim being a woman of “easy virtues” or a women of “loose moral character” can be drawn. Such a woman has a right to protect her dignity and cannot be subjected to rape only for that reason. She has a right to refuse to submit herself to sexual intercourse to anyone and everyone because she is not a vulnerable object or prey for being sexually assaulted by anyone and everyone. Merely because a woman is of easy virtue, her evidence cannot be discarded on that ground alone rather it is to be cautiously appreciated.[7]

In view of the provisions of Sections 53 and 54 of the Evidence Act, 1872, unless the character of the prosecutrix itself is in issue, her character is not a relevant factor to be taken into consideration at all. The courts while trying an accused on the charge of rape, must deal with the case with utmost sensitivity, examining the broader probabilities of a case and not get swayed by minor contradictions or insignificant discrepancies in the evidence of witnesses which are not of a substantial character.[8]

However, even in a case of rape, the onus is always on the prosecution to prove, affirmatively each ingredient of the offence it seeks to establish and such onus never shifts. It is no part of the duty of the defence to explain as to how and why in a rape case the victim and other witness have falsely implicated the accused. Prosecution case has to stand on its own legs and cannot take support from the weakness of the case of defence. However great the suspicion against the accused and however strong the moral belief and conviction of the court, unless the offence of the accused is established beyond reasonable doubt on the basis of legal evidence and material on the record, he cannot be convicted for an offence. There is an initial presumption of innocence of the accused and the prosecution has to bring home the offence against the accused by reliable evidence. The accused is entitled to the benefit of every reasonable doubt.[9]

Prosecution has to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and cannot take support from the weakness of the case of defence. There must be proper legal evidence and material on record to record the conviction of the accused. Conviction can be based on sole testimony of the prosecutrix provided it lends assurance of her testimony. However, in case the court has reason not to accept the version of prosecutrix on its face value, it may look for corroboration. In case the evidence is read in its totality and the story projected by the prosecutrix is found to be improbable, the prosecutrix case becomes liable to be rejected.

The court must act with sensitivity and appreciate the evidence in totality of the background of the entire case and not in the isolation. Even if the prosecutrix is of easy virtue/unchaste woman that itself cannot be a determinative factor and the court is required to adjudicate whether the accused committed rape on the victim on the occasion complained of.[10]


[1] State of M.P. v. Dayal Sahu, (2005) 8 SCC 122.

[2] Vishnu v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 2006 SC

[3] Jai Krishna Mandal & Anr. v. State of Jharkhand, (2010) 14 SCC 534.

[4] AIR 2009 SC 858

[5] Id.

[6] (2009) 15 SCC 566.

[7] State of Maharashtra & Anr. v. Madhukar Narayan Mardikar, AIR 1991 SC 207

[8] Narender kumar v. State (NCT of Delhi), Crl. Appeal No. 2066-67/2009.

[9] Uday v. State of Karnataka, AIR 2003 SC 1639.

[10] Narender, supra at 6.


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