TAMIL NAIDU: Today, the Madras High Court initiated suo motu contempt of court proceedings against Swathi, the prime witness of Gokulraj murder case, 2015. In this case Dalit boy was killed for having a relationship with a woman belonging to a higher caste.
A bench headed by Justices MS Ramesh and Anand Venkatesh said that it had noticed that Swathi was making false statements in court despite having taken oath to tell only the truth.
Further, the Court said that trial in a case was such that neither the lawyers, nor the judges had actually witnessed the incident. Yet, it was their job to find out the truth by relying on the evidence on record and witness statements.
“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,” the High Court said.
The Court went on to say that false statements on oath prevent courts from administering justice and, therefore, such act was punishable under the law.
“A false statement given before the Court on oath strikes at the very root of the criminal justice system. A court cannot ignore such a conduct which has the propensity to shake the public confidence in Judicial Institutions. If the courts become lackadaisical in dealing with false statements given by witnesses on oath, it will virtually dislodge the administration of justice and the dignity of the Court,” the High Court said.
In March 2022, a Special Sessions Court in Madurai had sentenced ten persons, including the prime accused Yuvaraj, to life imprisonment for killing Gokulraj. The case was initially considered a suspicious death but was later changed to murder after the postmortem showed that the victim was strangled to death.
It was later proved in court that Gokulraj had been killed as he was a Dalit, and the woman he was allegedly in a relationship with, belonged to the dominant ‘Gounder’ community.
Gokulraj, an engineering student, went missing on June 23, 2015. He was last seen along with a woman friend at the Arthanareeswarar temple at Tiruchengode. Later, his headless body was found by the railway track in Tamil Nadu’s Namakkal district.
The prosecution, the sessions court and the High Court, were of the view that the CCTV footage from the temple showed that the woman in the video was Swathi.
However, Swathi maintained before all authorities that she cannot identify the woman.
On November 25 this year, the High Court bench showed her the video footage and yet, Swathi refused to identify herself.
The Court asked her whether she was under duress or was facing any threat upon which she began to weep before fainting in court.
The Court then warned her of the legal implications of lying under oath and told her to make up her mind and come back to the Court on Wednesday, November 30.
However, on Wednesday too, Swathi stood by her statement. She said that while the man in the video was Gokulraj, she was not able to identify the woman walking with him.
Before the trial court too, after Swathi had turned hostile without giving any reasons, she was charged with perjury and the case is pending hearing before a magistrate’s court.
On Wednesday, the High Court said that since it was initiating contempt proceedings against Swathi, the perjury proceedings will be merged with the contempt case and that it will be transferred from the magistrate’s court to the High Court.