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SC orders prosecution of hostile witnesses in murder case

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 2 (UNI) Sending clear signals that no one can take the courts for a ride any longer, the Supreme Court has ordered the prosecution of two eyewitnesses in a murder case for backing out from their earlier statements made before the court.

A bench comprising Mr Justice H K Sema and Mr Justice A R Laxman, while setting aside the Madhya Pradesh High Court judgement acquitting convict Badri Yadav for murdering a person on September 16, 1989, said that a compliant under section 193 IPC would be filed against Mohammad Ameen and Fakir Ali for perjury.

Tha two eyewitnesses were prosecution witnesses when their statements were recorded by the trial court in 1990. They turned hostile when they were recalled on an application by defence.

The trial court, however, did not believe their second statements and sentenced Badri Yadav and accused Raju, who died during the pendency of the appeal before the High Court, to life imprisonment after convicting them for the murder of Lal Mohammad.

The High Court, in May 2000 set aside the trial court order and by believing the second deposition of the two eyewitnesses, acquitted the accused.

The Supreme Court, while setting aside the High Court judgement, restored the conviction and ruled against Badri Yadav. The proceedings against Raju stood abated due to his death.

The apex court noted, ''A witness can be allowed to perjure himself by rescinding from testimony given in the court.'' The offence of prejury is punishable with sentence of maximum seven years with or without fine.

This is a second apex court judgement ordering prosecution of witnesses turning hostile due to allurements, after key witness in best bakery case Zaheera Sheikh was found guilty of contempt of court and was sentenced to one year simple imprisonment along with a fine of Rs 50,000.

Fourteen persons were burnt alive during communal riots in Gujarat in 2002 and the trial of the case was shifted out of Gujarat to Maharashtra by the Supreme Court, which ordered re-investigation and re-trial in the case using its powers under article 142 of the Constitution.

Recently, all the nine accused had to be acquitted in Jessica Lall case after the witnesses turned hostile. Two days ago all the five accused were set free in Outlook cartoonist Irfan murder case.

This judgement of the Supreme Court is a clear indication that the apex court wants such turncoats to be dealt with an iron hand.

Commenting on the High court approach in the case, the Supreme Court said, ''No reasonable person should have acted on such statements.'' UNI AKS/SC CS RS1058

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