OBSERVING THAT train commuters in the city are always in a hurry and therefore not expected to wait to give a statement as a witness in a crime, a magistrate’s court recently convicted a 30-year-old man for molesting a woman relying on her statement and one other co-passenger.
The accused, Hafiz Wasir, was sentenced to one-year imprisonment by the court last week after it found him guilty of sexual harassment.
The incident had taken place in February 2017 during the peak travel hours at Dadar, one of Mumbai’s busiest railway stations. A 26-year-old woman was touched inappropriately by the accused while she was alighting at the station’s platform number one. She managed to catch hold of the accused with the help of a male co-passenger.
During the trial, the woman as well as the co-passenger were the only two eyewitnesses present before the court. One of the arguments made by the accused in his defence was that since there are no other independent witnesses, despite the incident having taken place on a busy railway station, the allegations against him cannot be substantially proven.
The court said that since the incident took place at a railway station, the independent witnesses in the case could have been other co-passengers present at the station. However, it said that other witnesses not being examined by the prosecution was not a reasonable ground.
“The passengers of the railway, particularly in Mumbai, are apparently in a hurry to reach their destination. No one is expected to wait for a long period to give a statement in a case in which he has no substantial interest,” the court said, observing the other co-passenger’s testimony, along with the victim’s, was enough.
The court observed that the co-passenger who had helped the woman nab the accused, was not known to either the victim or the accused, and hence could be considered an independent witness.
The court also did not accept the accused’s contention that there was delay in filing of the case and that CCTV camera footage was not seized to prove the allegations stating that the statement of the victim was sufficient.
The accused had sought leniency seeking to be given the benefit under the Probation of Offenders Act as he was a first-time offender. The court, however, said since the sexual harassment was committed at a crowded place, it was not a fit case.
He was found guilty under section 354 (sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code.
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