In the name of trial of case, witnesses are forced to come to courts repeatedly, writes MARRI RAMU

Many residents of Shankarnagar in Amberpet erupted in anger after a local Upener Chary was killed by a milkman of the same locality and his associates three days ago.

Condemning the brutal murder committed during daytime, several persons urged the police to immediately arrest the accused. Some even shouted that persons who claimed Chary’s life should meet same fate. A few hours later when the police shifted the body to morgue and requested some of the locals to be ‘panch witnesses’ before conducting the autopsy, no one turned up.

With much difficulty, the investigating officer completed the formalities. This is not the first instance of police struggling to find a person to help fulfil legal formalities let alone to depose evidence in the court of law against the accused. Investigators experienced this many a time and have a long list of such cases in which no one comes forward to give information and state the same in the court.

Why does this happen frequently? Interestingly, both the police and the public have different answers. Chary’s case is a classic example of the persons, who demanded that the killers be punished, are indirectly helping the accused escape the law by denying even to be a panch witness, aver the police.

One of the main reasons for poor conviction rate, especially in homicide cases, is people not willing to state in the court of law what they had seen during commission of an offence or at the crime scene, investigators argue. “But are the police really ensuring that interests of a witness are protected and the person is not to put to difficulty from the stage of investigation to trial of the case,” ask many.

In the name of trial of case, witnesses are forced to come to courts repeatedly. “Can the police explain in how many cases they ensured a witness could complete deposition of evidence with minimum number of appearances in the court,” is another question no policeman is ready to answer. People fear persons involved in murder cases and would not want to take risk. To alleviate fears of the public, some lawyers say, the police need to rework their strategies and evolve a system protecting the witnesses, ensuring their safety and speedy disposal of cases.

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