Mumbai: Taking note of the trend of minor rape victims turning hostile, the Bombay High Court recently said, mostly the culprit is a family member or a relative and so the child is forced to forget the horrific incident. The HC further said, if a child turns hostile, it is up to the court to decide if she has actually turned hostile or is under pressure.

Strong observations were made by a single-judge bench of Justice Sadhana Jadhav while dismissing an appeal filed by Imran Khan (27), challenging his conviction and 11 years rigorous imprisonment, imposed upon him by a special court for raping a nine-year-old girl.

“There is a rising trend of the minor rape victims turning hostile. It is apparent that before the trial, elder members of the family are won over by the accused and hence, minors would turn hostile,” Justice Jadhav said. “Most of the times, it is the close relative or close acquaintance who would sexually abuse a child and subsequently, the child is forced to become hostile.

In the instant case, it appears that the accused Imran, happens to be a close relative and therefore, the family members wanted to suppress the said act,” Justice Jadhav remarked. According to the prosecution case, Imran, a maternal uncle of the victim raped her several times. The child narrated her ordeal to her mother, however, she did not entertain her.

It was only after the child went to her paternal grandmother’s house and told her of Imran continuously raping her, that a criminal case was registered with the Govandi police.“It, therefore, appears that the victim was pressurised to turn hostile at the time of trial and resile from her earlier statement.

It is a pathetic situation that although the victim had disclosed to her mother about the heinous act committed by Imran, the mother had not taken her statement seriously,” Justice Jadhav noted. “It is unfortunate that she had reposed faith in her grandmother and therefore, without fear she could give her statements but at the time of trial, at the behest of her mother she had turned hostile,” Justice Jadhav said.

Citing the hostility of the victim, Imran urged the court to acquit him of all the charges. “This contention cannot be taken into consideration as the offence is not just against the individual child but is against the society. Hence, although the victim has turned hostile, the onus of proving the innocence would shift on the accused,” Justice Jadhav said while trashing his plea.

“Though she has turned hostile, however, there is no denial to the incident. She chooses to forget the incident under pressure and she was pained by the fact that she has to forget the incident to protect the accused. It is for the Court to decide as to whether she does not really recollect or she is being forced to forget,” Justice Jadhav said. The court accordingly, upheld the special court’s orders and conviction of Imran.