While evaluating the evidence against the accused, the court had to discard the testimony of two of the three victims, as they were traumatised and could not stand the questions put to them during cross-examination by defence lawyers.
The court said, “The victims are mentally subnormal and are unable to state their plight. Even if they do give a statement, the court cannot believe them as they cannot stand the questions put to them during cross-examination.”
Rohini Salian, special prosecutor in the case, said, “The girls are mentally-challenged and it is difficult to understand their language. The torture and exploitation have created a block in their mind. As the girls had to revisit the torture to provide evidence, their mental condition deteriorated.”
Apart from the three victims, the prosecution could not call the rest of them to narrate the incidents as by the time the girls had deposed, doctors had termed the others unstable to give evidence. “After the deposition of the three girls, the mental condition of the rest of the victims deteriorated and they had to be admitted to the hospital. The doctors told us that the repetitive conversation on the past incidents had traumatised them,” Salian said.
The statement of one of the girls who deposed first helped the prosecution prove the case. Till the case came up for trial, the girl had crossed the age of 18, and could answer the questions put to her. “It was fortunate that there was one girl whose IQ was normal and whose statement could be considered,” the court said.
It was during taking statements of the three girls that the the murder of one of the inmates was proved. The girls had, in their deposition, stated that they had seen the accused beat up one of the girls. After the girl died, Karanjule covered her body in a bed sheet to dispose it of, they said. The girls were witness to the murder and on the basis of their statements, the court added the charge of murder against Karanjule.