Consent of a girl is not possible in case of gang rape and the accused cannot defend himself on the ground of victim's complicity, the Supreme Court held on Tuesday.
The apex court said the girl cannot be a consenting party in case of gang rape and it will be presumed that the prosecutrix did not give consent.
A bench of justices B S Chauhan and S A Bobde dismissed the plea of the accused who had submitted that there was consent on the part of victim. It upheld trial court's verdict of sentencing them to ten years of imprisonment.
According to the victim, the incident took place in June, 1999 in Jharkhand when two boys had forcibly taken her to a school where she was raped and later some others joined in and sexually assaulted her.
"The trial court has thoroughly appreciated the facts of the case and come to the conclusion that in view of the provisions of Section 114-A of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 there is a presumption as to absence of consent in case of gang rape.
"And it will be presumed that the prosecutrix did not give consent, as this presumption is based on the reasoning that nobody can be a consenting party to several persons simultaneously. Thus, consent is not possible in the case of gang rape," it said.
The apex court said that rape should not be treated only as a sexual crime as it is blatant violation of woman's integrity.
"Rape cannot be treated only as a sexual crime but it should be viewed as a crime involving aggression which leads to the domination of the prosecutrix. In case of rape besides the psychological trauma, there is also social stigma to the victim.
"Majority of rapes are not sudden occurrences but are generally well planned as in this case. Social stigma has a devastating effect on rape victim. It is violation of her right of privacy," the bench said.
"Such victims need physical, mental, psychological and social rehabilitation. Physically she must feel safe in the society, mentally she needs help to restore her lost self esteem, psychologically she needs help to overcome her depression and socially, she needs to be accepted back in the social fold," it said.
It said that there is no prohibition in law to convict the accused of rape on the basis of sole testimony of the prosecutrix and the law does not require that her statement be corroborated by the statements of other witnesses.