Taking serious view over “the culture of witnesses becoming hostile”, the Bombay High Court said action has to be taken against such witnesses.
A division bench of Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice Mridula Bhatkar was hearing an appeal filed by the state government against the acquittal of Solapur resident Rajendra Vaidande.
On November 6, 2006 Rajendra’s wife, Ujjwala, allegedly fell in her kitchen and died.
Additional public prosecutor Hitendra Dedhia said Ujjwala’s brother lodged a complaint against Rajendra, alleging that he used to harass her.
However, during trial, eight witnesses, including Ujjwala's' parents, brother and son, turned hostile and conceded that it was an accidental death.
On April 1, 2009, Kolhapur additional sessions judge acquitted Rajendra of the murder charge. The government then challenged the acquittal in the HC claiming that trial judge ignored the investigation reports.
While directing the investigating officer of the case, Nirmala Mane, the HC observed, “According to the post-mortem report, 12 serious injuries were sustained by the deceased therefore it can’t be accidental death.”
“We find it strange that even the parents have turned hostile. This needs to be probed,” remarked Justice Desai on Wednesday. “There is a consistent pattern of witnesses turning hostile. Judges can’t sit and watch accused getting acquitted.”
The HC observed that the additional sessions judge should have issued perjury notices. “This means some pressure was exerted. It is time you [prosecution] started doing something.”