FPJ Legal: Bombay HC considers 11-year-old daughter's testimony to uphold conviction of mother

Narsi BenwalUpdated: Friday, October 08, 2021, 10:20 PM IST
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FPJ Legal: Bombay HC considers 11-year-old daughter's testimony to uphold conviction of mother | PTI Photo

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court at the Nagpur seat has upheld the conviction of a woman and her lover for killing her husband. The HC to uphold the conviction, relied upon the testimony of the woman's 11-year-old daughter, who was an eyewitness to the entire incident.

A bench of Justices Vinay Deshpande and Amit Borkar was hearing a plea filed by Amol Rathod (38) and Ranjana Banewar (30) challenging the February 2017 judgment of a sessions court, which convicted them for murdering her husband Ramesh and then destroying the evidence by burying his dead body in his own house at Nandanwan, Nagpur.

The sessions court while convicting Ranjana and Amol relied upon the testimony of Ranjana and Ramesh's daughter Payal.

Before the HC, the accused argued that the lower court erred in relying over Payal's testimony and convicting them accordingly.

"We are afraid that we can accept this submission that Payal being a child witness, her evidence is required to be discarded," the bench said, adding, "Consistently, various High Courts and the Apex Court is of the view that child witness is also a competent witness to depose before the Court. There cannot be any discrimination while evaluating the evidence of any adult witness and the child witness."

The judges noted that Payal in her statements clearly stated that her mother Ranjana and Amol together killed her father Ramesh in September 2015. She further stated that her mother and father often quarrelled as the latter used to suspect her mother's character.

Noting the girl's statements, the judges said, "We cannot forget that this prosecution witness is between the age of kid and adolescent. In her presence, drastic incident has occurred."

The bench further trashed the contention of the accused that the girl was tutored and should have had spoken about the incident to everyone in the school, despite living with Ranjana and Amol for a few days after the incident.

"Therefore, some fear must be lurking in her mind that if she disclose to anybody in the school, something will happen to her," the bench said, adding, "Obviously, she must have gathered courage when she noticed police when both the accused were apprehended."

"From the evidence of Payal, we are of the view that she is witness to the truth. There is nothing on record to call her as tutored witness. Therefore, we independently accept her evidence," the bench held, adding, "Payal's testimony is inspiring and in our view, the said alone can be made the basis for conviction of both the accused."

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