The recent acquittal of a 30-year-old man booked on charges of raping his live-in partner after the girl turned hostile followed by acquittal of woman and her alleged paramour of raping her minor daughter after the victim denies the allegations, once again brings to fore how the hostile witnesses are taking the courts for a ride.
Cases falling flat in court
In absence of action against the hostile witnesses more and more cases of rape are falling flat in the court and retracting from their earlier statements raising a debate about the misuse of the law and adversely affecting the genuine cases.
Since January this year, a total of 17 rape cases were decided, out of which 10 cases ended up in acquittal, one accused was discharged of the allegations, while in another case quashing of FIR was filed and only five cases resulted in conviction owing to hostile witnesses.
"In most rape cases, it later emerges that the sex was consensual. Also, it has been seen that in some cases women misuse the law and blackmail the suspects after the latter fall into their trap. This is a very dangerous trend, which adversely affects genuine rape cases. Stringent action should be taken against such women who misuse the law," said Rabindra Pandit, an advocate.
'Acquittal doesn't every time imply it as false case'
"In most cases, accused is known to the victim, so there is tremendous pressure on the victim. Social stigma and pressure from relatives is what makes the victims backtrack on allegations. But acquittal in cases doesn't every time imply it was a false case. Most of the time the witnesses or the victims turn hostile owing to 'undue considerations' or the pressure exerted by the suspects," said Inderjeet Bassi, a lawyer.
"Stringent measures to deal with hostile witnesses would definitely instill fear in the minds of others. Instead of overlooking, the court needs to play proactive role to punish suspect if witnesses turn hostile under his pressure. At the same time, the police should also be penalised if it is proved that the witnesses produced were fake or tutored," said Rajeev Duggal, an advocate.
Reason for hostile witnesses
+ Social stigma and pressure from relatives is what makes the victims backtrack on allegations
+ 'Undue considerations'
+ Absence of action against hostile witnesses
+ Non implementation of witness protection programme
+ Misuse of law to fix strained relations
Where the victim's testimony helped prove guilt
March 3: Court awarded 10-year jail to Vijay, 42, the father of three a class 4 employee with PGIMER for the rape of eight-year-old daughter of his colleague
February 11: Court awarded 10-year jail to Ranjit Singh, 19, a resident of Sector 46 for raping a minor
January 30: Court awarded 10-year jail to Ravi, 21, a resident of Sector 25 for raping a 12-year-old student of Class 6
January 28: Court awarded 7-year jail to Amandeep, 21, a resident of the Housing Board Colony for raping friend's minor sister
January 12: Court awarded 7-year jail term to Manish Arora, 50, supervisor of Bal Niketan for sexual harassment of girl inmates.
Hostile victims abundant, but perjury proceedings exception
Despite the fact that more and more cases are falling flat, but the perjury proceedings are only an exception. There have been only three cases in which perjury proceedings were marked, but that too in 2013.