HC wonders why people shy away from becoming witnesses

The Bombay High Court said citizens shy away from being witnesses in a criminal case.

Updated: Aug 30, 2012, 00:43 AM IST

Mumbai: Observing that Indians should take active part in the delivery of justice, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday said citizens shy away from being witnesses in a criminal case.

"Nobody is ready to come as a witness. In India, people want to stay away from police station and courts. When there is an accident and the victim is lying on the road severely injured, people just see and walk away. No one tries to help the victim," a division bench of Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode observed.

The court remarked this while hearing the appeals filed by two persons challenging the death penalty awarded to them for raping and murdering an employee of Wipro, a BPO company in Pune, in 2007.

According to the prosecution, the 22-year-old victim had on November 1, 2007 boarded the regular cab contracted to ply the employees by the company to report for night duty. The cab driver Purshottam Borade, who was accompanied by his friend Pradeep Kokade, however, changed the route and took unsuspecting victim to a remote place, where she was raped by both of them.

The duo then strangled her to death using her `dupatta` and disfigured her face inflicting injuries with a sharp weapon to hide her identity. The body was recovered the next day, following which the duo was arrested.
When the defence lawyer was today reading out the statements of panch witnesses, who were all employees of Wipro, Justice Kanade said, "It is a good thing that the panch witnesses are all independent witnesses and not like the regular panchs in other cases where they usually turn hostile."

The bench observed that in India people shy away from taking part in delivery of justice. "In the United States, citizens have to compulsorily serve jury duty. But here, police tend to have the same panch witnesses in every case and they turn hostile during trial," Justice Kanade observed.

The duo has been found guilty for criminal conspiracy, murder, rape and kidnapping. The case had generated a great deal of public interest and safety of female employees working late night shifts in BPOs.