Court rues malady of witnesses turning hostile

Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar expressed helplessness over the problem of witnesses turning hostile while jailing a man for three years for plotting an attack on his wife, despite his wife later partly retracting her deposition to the court.

Rickshaw puller Ram Ladeth had plotted an attack on his wife through his friends as he suspected her fidelity and wanted to teach her a lesson. Though his wife partly retracted the deposition, the court discarded it saying, "Guddi deliberately made a statement to exonerate the accused and the reason is obvious that he is her husband."

With Guddi turning hostile, the court sentenced the rickshaw puller on the basis of circumstantial evidence, saying, "It is true that accused Ram Ladeth may not have caused any injury to Guddi but the circumstances prove his nexus with the offence." The court convicted the husband, saying the judiciary's work become all the more difficult due to witnesses turning hostile.

"The courts in India face great difficulty in appreciating the evidence as the witnesses very often turn hostile - some time completely, some time partly. The duty of the court become onerous in such circumstances, to extract the truth from the statement of such a witness," the court said.

It added that "the duty of the court becomes more difficult when there is only single witness of the incident."

Suspecting his wife's fidelity, Ram Ladeth took her wife out one day in February 2009 on the pretext to get back the loan that she had given to a man.But he took her to a desolate place in Okhla where he handed her over to two of his friends who attacked her, while he exhorted them to kill her.

As the woman lost consciousness, the trio left her alone from where she was taken to hospital by some passersby hours later. Initially she had told police and the court that her husband was party to the attack on her. But later she retracted her allegations against her husband, saying that he had to run away from the spot to save his life as the two men accosted them on the way and attacked them. The court junked her deposition.

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