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offences against human body - Rape

Supreme Court of India

State Of Punjab vs Ramdev Singh on 17 December, 2003

Sexual violence apart from being a dehumanizing act is an unlawful intrusion on the right of privacy and sanctity of a female. It is a serious blow to her supreme honour and offends her self-esteem and dignity  it degrades and humiliates the victim and where the victim is a helpless innocent child or a minor, it leaves behind a traumatic experience. A rapist not only causes physical injuries but more indelibly leaves a scar on the most cherished possession of a woman i.e. her dignity, honour, reputation and not the least her chastity. Rape is not only a crime against the person of a woman, it is a crime against the entire society. It destroys, as noted by this Court in Shri Bodhisattwa Gautam v. Miss Subhra Chakraborty (AIR 1996 SC 922), the entire psychology of a woman and pushes her into deep emotional crisis. It is a crime against basic human rights, and is also violative of the victim's most cherished of the Fundamental Rights, namely, the Right to Life contained in Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950 (in short the 'Constitution') The Courts are, therefore, expected to deal with cases of sexual crime against women with utmost sensitivity. Such cases need to be dealt with sternly and severely. A socially sensitized judge, in our opinion, is a better statutory armour in cases of crime against women than long clauses of penal provisions, containing complex exceptions and provisos.


Delay in lodging the FIR cannot be used as a ritualistic formula for doubting the prosecution case and discarding the same solely on the ground of delay in lodging the first information report. Delay has the effect of putting the Court in its guard to search if any explanation has been offered for the delay, and if offered, whether it is satisfactory or not. If the prosecution fails to satisfactorily explain the delay and there is possibility of embellishment in prosecution version on account of such delay, the same would be fatal to the prosecution. However, if the delay is explained to the satisfaction of the Court, same cannot by itself be a ground for disbelieving and discarding the entire prosecution version, as done by the High Court in the present case.

in the case of Bhupinder Kumar vs. State: 2015 SCC OnLine Del 9457, this Court has observed that delay in lodging of the FIR by a Prosecutrix is not fatal to the Prosecution case. Relevant paras are reproduced as under:

"12. One of the major contention of learned counsel for the appellant is that there is delay of 16 days in lodging the FIR therefore, the delay in lodging the FIR is fatal. The submission is devoid of any merit inasmuch case in Karnel Singh v. State of M.P, (1995) 5 SCC 518, it was held by Apex Court that merely because the complaint was lodged less than promptly does not raise the inference that the complaint was false. The reluctance to go to the police is because of society's attitude towards such women; it casts doubt and shame upon her rather than comfort and sympathise with her. Therefore, delay in lodging complaints in such cases does not necessarily indicate that her version is false. In Gurmit Singh (supra), it was observed that that in sexual offences delay in the lodging of the FIR can be due to variety of reasons particularly the reluctance of the prosecutrix or her family members to go to the police and complain about the incident which concerns the reputation of the prosecutrix and the honour of her family. It is only after giving it a cool thought that a complaint of sexual offence is generally lodged.

In the case of Tulshidas Kanolkarv. The State of Goa: (2003) 8 SCC 590, the Hon'ble Supreme Court has observed as under:

"... ... The unusual circumstances satisfactorily explained the delay in lodging of the first information report. In any event, delay per se is not a mitigating circumstances for the accused when accusation of rape are involved. Delay in lodging first information report cannot be used as a ritualistic formula for discarding prosecution case and doubting its authenticity. It only puts the court on guard to search for and consider if any explanation has been offered for the delay. Once it is offered, the Court is to only see whether it is satisfactory or not. In a case if the prosecution fails to satisfactorily explain the delay and there is possibilit