The Corroboration Rule: Bharwada Bhoginbhai Hirjibhai Vs. State of Gujarat
Author: Vidhi Kela
The Corroboration Rule
● Evidence has paramount importance in every case, whether it is a criminal case or a civil case, because it affirms a fact.
● The facts cited as evidence are given weight by evidence. Evidence aids in minimizing the time expended on a case.
● Evidence that strengthens or confirms pre-existing evidence is referred to as corroborating evidence.
● It is used in courts to back up a witness’ testimony.
● Generally, if the court is satisfied that a single evidence or single testimony confirms the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, a conviction can be developed.
● However, in certain cases, verdicts have been established based on statute and case law wherein a single piece of evidence was inadequate to prove a defendant’s guilt and other evidence were necessary to corroborate the main evidence.
● The Corroborative Rule creates a barrier to conviction based on a single piece of evidence, so as to ensure that the judge or jury caution themselves against relying on a single piece of evidence whilst convicting the accused.
● So basically, the necessity for additional evidence is required in cases when there is a single piece of incriminating evidence, but its credibility is in question. The law thus requires extra evidence to lessen the possibility of a mistake leading to a false conviction of an innocent individual.
● Section 156 in The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 states that ‘Questions tending to corroborate evidence of relevant fact are admissible’.
Bharwada Bhoginbhai Hirjibhai Vs. State of Gujarat
● Bench: Thakkar, M.P. (J)
● Parties to the case: Bharwada Bhoginbhai Hirjibhai (Appellant) and State of Gujarat (Respondents)
● Date of Judgement: 26 May, 2017
● The facts of the case date back to the evening of September 7, 1975 approximately around 5.30 pm.
● Two girls went to the appellant’s house to meet their friend who also happened to be the appellant’s daughter (all the girls belonging to the same age group of 10-12 years).
● Despite the fact that the daughter wasn’t home, the appellant created a false impression of his daughter’s presence and induced the girls to enter inside.
● Once they entered the house, the appellant shut the doors and undressed himself in front of the girls, thus exposing himself.
● He even forced one of them (hereinafter referred to as P.W. 2) to indulge in an indecent act upon which P.W. 2 started to weep and managed to successfully flee from there.
● However, P.W. 1 couldn’t escape from the clutches of the appellant and hence was sexually assaulted by him.
● In the verdict of this present case, the Apex Court stated that ‘in the Indian context, refusing to act on a sexual assault victim’s testimony merely due to the absence of corroboration is similar to adding insult to injury’.
● The bench also questioned the necessity to examine the testimony of a girl or woman who reports rape or sexual misconduct through glasses of doubt, disbelief and suspicion when doing so, especially in a male-dominated society, like ours, would only mean justifying male chauvinism.
● Hence, on the doctrine that ‘the evidence of a victim of sexual assault stands on par with evidence of injured witnesses’, not only was the appellant held guilty for sexual misconduct and attempt to rape but also that a precedent was laid that in cases involving sexual assualt, the conviction of an accused is lawful even in the absence of corroborating evidence.