The witness, Suraj, was a minor child of the couple who had seen his father, Dhanaji Bajage, striking a fatal blow with a chair on his mother's head on March 11, 2004.
"It is true that the evidence of a child witness normally is not accepted by the court unless it is corroborated, as children are susceptible to be tutored. In the present case, however, we find that Suraj is not a tutored witness," observed Justices Revethi Dhere and P V Hardas.
Sadanand, uncle of deceased Sangeeta, had rushed to the scene of crime when he was informed about the incident by Suraj. Sadanand also recorded this fact in the FIR that Suraj had briefed him.
"Thus the disclosure made by Suraj to Sadanand was an immediate and spontaneous disclosure and there is no element of tutoring of Suraj by Sadanand," the court said last week.
"In these circumstances, therefore, we find that the testimony of Suraj is amply corroborated by the immediate disclosure which was made by Suraj to Sadanand and the disclosure therefore is a strong circumstance substantiating that he is a truthful witness," the bench further remarked.
The court rejected the argument of the appellant that an independent witness from the locality was not examined. The judges said they did not find that non-examination of any independent witness has vitiated the conviction. The conviction is based on an eyewitness and therefore, absence of any other witness would not materially affect the outcome of the trial, the judges opined.
The bench also confirmed the three-year jail term awarded to the appellant by the Thane sessions court in 2005 for screening evidence by telling police that his wife had fallen off a ladder and sustained a fatal injury.
However, the court did not find any evidence about the cruelty meted out on the victim by her husband by raising dowry demands of buying him an auto rickshaw and a tractor. Hence, he was acquitted on this count.
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