The Bombay high court has held that the evidence of a child witness should be scrutinised with care because they are susceptible to tutoring.
The deposition of a child should inspire the confidence of the court without any embellishment, the court said recently while acquitting a woman and two bakery workers, all three of whom had been accused of murdering her husband.
A division bench of justice VK Tahilramani and justice PD Kode was hearing appeals filed by Bindu Gupta, 28, Motilal Prajapati, 35, and Mainuddin Mustafa, 25, challenging their conviction on November 2009 by a Thane sessions court for murdering Bindu’s husband Nanhelal.
It was alleged that on October 27, 2006 Bindu called two bakery workers — over whose visits she and her husband would often fight — home.
Prajapati and Mustafa overpowered Nanhelal and strangled him to death. The prosecution said this was witnessed by the couple’s ten-year-old daughter who informed her cousin Mahendra, 31, who in turn lodged a police complaint.
The court noted that the conviction was solely based on the statement of the girl.
Meanwhile, lawyer Arfan Sait who appeared for the accused contended that Nanhelal had committed suicide and Mahendra had falsely implicated Bindu and the others.
Sait pointed out evidence from the doctor who conducted the post-mortem, which stated that there was a fracture dislocation in the cervical vertebrae, which could arise out of hanging.
The court concluded that the evidence of the girl showed that she has not actually a witness to the incident as she was sleeping at the time.
They noted that it was Mahendra who brought the girl to court and she appeared to be under his influence. The judges also deduced that once Nanhelal and Bindu were out of the way, the couple’s property and business would come to Mahendra.