High acquittal rate as witnesses turn hostile: SC judge

Many of the accused in India are acquitted due to witnesses turning hostile, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai of the Supreme Court said Wednesday.

New Delhi: Many of the accused in India are acquitted due to witnesses turning hostile, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai of the Supreme Court said Wednesday.

Inaugurating the vulnerable witness deposition complex at the Saket district court here, Justice Desai said it has been seen that in many cases, the accused are acquitted as witnesses turned hostile and failed to narrate the crime incident.

Justice Desai narrated a past experience when she went to a court with her father and saw that a woman, who had lost her husband, could not utter a single word.

She said that in that case, the witness did not turn hostile but could not narrate the incident due to the fear that she felt in the courtroom due to the presence of the accused.

The case concluded with the acquittal of the accused, she added.

Justice Desai stressed on building a "witness friendly atmosphere" and said it will help witnesses recall the crime scene and depose without fear.

She said not only were child witnesses vulnerable but victims of rape, domestic violence and terror cases also fall in the same category.

"In our justice system, due to various reasons, witnesses turn hostile. The need of the hour is to create confidence in the witnesses for accurate deposition," she said.

Delhi High Court Chief Justice G. Rohini said: Our experience has shown many eye-witnesses turning hostile as one of the important factors for many cases ending in acquittal."

She urged that witnesses must receive protection from intimidation.

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