Madras High Court: Suo Moto Contempt Proceedings initiated against aitness in Gokulraj Murder Case

Madras High Court: Suo Moto Contempt Proceedings initiated against aitness in Gokulraj Murder Case

Swathi, a key witness in the Gokulraj Murder Case, has been charged with contempt of court by the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court. While hearing the appeals challenging the life imprisonment, the madurai bench of Justice MS Ramesh and Justice Anand Venkatesh summoned Swathi.

Swathi was shown CCTV footage of the deceased Gokulraj exiting the temple with her during the previous hearing on November 25. Swathi correctly identified the man in the video as Gokulraj but incorrectly identified the woman as herself. However, the court found Swathi to be making false statements under oath. Swathi began crying and fainted when asked if she was compelled to make such statements. Despite the court's warning that such actions would result in contempt proceedings, Swathi stood by her statements. As a result, the court instituted contempt proceedings against Swathi.

“we are prima facie satisfied that PW4 in facie curiae has made a false statement on oath and thereby, she has interfered in the administration of justice and hence, we are inclined to initiate Contempt proceedings against PW4.” A trial becomes meaningful only when truth is uttered by a witness....It therefore, becomes imperative that the witness, who deposes before the court speaks the truth. That is the reason why the witness is administered oath before recording the evidence. It is the statement of the witness made on oath and the materials that are collected during the course of trial, which ultimately throws light and enables a Judge to conclude as to whether the prosecution has proved the case or not.”

The court went on to say that such behaviour undermines public trust in the judiciary. As a result, in addition to perjury proceedings, the High Court had the authority to initiate contempt proceedings against such witness to ensure proper administration of justice. As a result, the court issued a notice to Swathi, requesting an explanation. She was also allowed to seek legal counsel to help her defend her case. Furthermore, the court merged Swathi's perjury proceedings pending before Judicial Magistrate No.I, Namakkal with the current case and decided to hear them together.

On June 23, 2015, Gokulraj, a Dalit youth of 21 years old at the time of his death, was abducted from Tiruchengode Arthanareeswarar temple. His body was discovered the next day, with his head severed. It was later discovered that Gokulraj was murdered by members of a fringe group for having an affair with an upper caste woman.

Case Title: Yuvraj and others v State

Citation: Crl.A(MD)Nos.228, 747, 515, 230, 232, 233 and 536 of 2022




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