Welcome to the official blog of the Law Offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate and Associates, where we are dedicated to providing litigation support services for matters related to the Examination of witnesses. In today’s blog post, we aim to shed light on the prevailing issues surrounding the Examination of witnesses, the legal framework in place for their protection, and the steps we can take as a society to combat these acts. Join us as we explore this critical subject and empower you with the knowledge to protect your rights and safety.

In a recent ruling by the Bombay High Court, Justice Pushpa D. Ganediwala highlighted the importance of robust evidence when relying on the sole testimony of the victim in rape cases. The judgment came in the case of Suraj vs. State of Maharashtra [Criminal Appeal no. 115 of 2020], where the prosecutrix accused the appellant of rape. The Court’s decision shed light on the necessity for what it termed as “sterling quality of evidence” to convict an accused solely based on the victim’s testimony.

1. Case Background:

  • The case brought before the Bombay High Court revolved around a prosecutrix who had accused the appellant of rape.
  • The trial court had convicted the appellant under Section 376(1) and 451 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).
  • He was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 10 years and fined Rs. 10,000.

3. Challenging the Conviction:

  • The appellant vehemently denied the charges, claiming that false allegations had been made against him.
  • The case hinged on the age of the prosecutrix and the nature of the alleged sexual intercourse, as well as her consent and willingness.

4. Age Discrepancy:

  • During the proceedings, it was revealed that the prosecutrix had stated she was 15 years old at the time of the incident.
  • However, it was later established that she was, in fact, above 18 years of age.
  • Her mother had asked her to report the incident to the police, and the prosecutrix confessed that she would not have done so otherwise.

5. Medical Examination Findings:

  • The medical examination of the girl revealed that she had a history of sexual activity, and there were no signs of physical harm to her body due to the alleged forceful intercourse. Nevertheless, the prosecutrix’s counsel maintained that her claims were truthful, and her sole testimony should be trusted.

6. The ‘Sterling Witness’ Principle:

  • The Bombay High Court reiterated the importance of the ‘sterling witness’ principle in such cases. In the Supreme Court’s judgment of Rai Sandeep v. State (NCT of Delhi), it was emphasized that a ‘sterling witness’ should possess unassailable credibility, providing testimony that can be accepted at face value.

   ‘Sterling Quality’ of Evidence:

  • The court referred to the judgment in the case of Santosh Prasad v. State of Bihar, which highlighted the requirement of ‘sterling quality of evidence’ when relying solely on the testimony of the prosecutrix.
  • The court concluded that the prosecutrix’s testimony, in this instance, did not meet the standard required to establish criminal liability for rape, particularly when there were doubts about the nature of the incident and her age.

7. Testing Witness Credibility:

  • The Court highlighted the need for witness statements to be truthful, consistent, and devoid of prevarication. A ‘sterling witness’ should withstand rigorous cross-examination without any room for doubt concerning the occurrence, persons involved, and the sequence of events.

8. Inconsistencies in Prosecutrix’s Testimony:

  • The prosecutrix had not initially disclosed certain details in her statement under Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). These omissions cast doubt on the credibility of her testimony.

9. Improbability of the Crime:

  • The Court considered the circumstances, including the shared sleeping arrangements of family members, making it highly improbable that the accused would commit such a crime without others noticing.

10. Prosecutrix’s Motivation:

  • The prosecutrix’s testimony indicated that she had a motive, given her annoyance with the accused’s restrictions and punishments.

 11. The High Court’s Verdict:

  • In its judgment, the High Court bench underscored the importance of stringent evidence requirements, particularly when severe sentences are at stake. While acknowledging that the sole testimony of the prosecutrix can be adequate to establish criminal liability, the Court noted that the quality of evidence in this case was substandard. It would be an injustice, the Court argued, to imprison the appellant for 10 years based on the available evidence.
  • Citing the case of Santosh Prasad vs. State of Bihar, the High Court emphasized the need for “sterling quality of evidence” when relying solely on the testimony of the prosecutrix. In this case, the prosecutrix was unable to provide sufficient proof to establish the appellant’s guilt of rape by criminal trespass, leading to the acquittal of the accused and the dismissal of all charges under the IPC and POCSO Act.

12.  Acquittal of the Accused:

  • The High Court determined that the prosecutrix did not meet the criteria of a ‘sterling witness.’
  • As such, the appeal was allowed, and the accused father was acquitted of the charges under Section 376(2)(f) and 506 of the IPC and Section 5(n) read with Section 6 of the POCSO Act.


The Bombay High Court’s decision serves as a reminder of the stringent criteria applied to witness testimony in rape cases, particularly when convictions are based solely on the testimony of the prosecutrix. The ‘sterling witness’ principle demands impeccable credibility, and any inconsistencies or motivations that cast doubt on the testimony can significantly impact the case’s outcome. In this instance, the accused was acquitted due to the prosecutrix’s inability to meet this high standard of witness credibility.

We are a law firm in the name and style of Law Offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate and Associates at Gurugram and Rewari. We are providing litigation support services for matters related to the Indian Evidence Act.

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