Granting bail to a gangrape convict, the Bombay High Court’s Aurangabad bench recently held that while recording the testimony of a hearing and speech impaired rape survivor, the trial courts were required to record the signs and gestures made by the specially-abled person, along with the interpretation provided by the expert studying the same.
On July 30, Justice V K Jadhav was hearing a criminal appeal by a person, who had challenged the Nanded sessions court order of last October, convicting him for gangraping a victim with hearing and speech impairment, and sentencing him to 10 years in jail.
The bench, perusing the evidence produced by the prosecution, observed that the trial court judge had neither taken any pain to record gestures made by the victim during the course of recording her evidence nor there was any reference as to how those gestures came to be interpreted by the expert or special teacher who was present during the recording of evidence.
The court said that recording details like signs and gestures made by witnesses was mandatory under Section 119 of the Indian Evidence Act, which prescribes procedure for recording evidence of a hearing and speech impaired witness.
Finding merit in the applicant’s submission, Justice Jadhav noted that the Nanded court failed to record the victim’s gestures and did not comply with the provisions of Indian Evidence Act.
The court went on to suspend the substantive part of sentence passed by the Nanded court. Also, till the convict’s criminal appeal against the said order was decided, the bench directed the applicant to be released on bail on furnishing a personal bond of Rs 20,000, along with a surety, and disposed the plea.
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