The Madras High Court while rejecting the plea of the appellant against his conviction, held that the visually impaired victim’s testimony is entitled to equal weight as that of a prosecutrix who could have been able to visually identify the appellant.
The appellant, Anbuselvan appealed against his conviction by the Mahila Court, Chennai by contending that the testimony of a visually challenged victim is inadmissible in law. The appellant is an auto driver and he had allegedly kidnapped the victim when she had come to ‘Sangeetha Kalalayam’ to learn English music. Instead of taking the victim to her destination, the appellant took her to an isolated place. Thereafter, he sexually harassed her. When the victim cried out for help, the appellant criminally intimidated her. He was convicted under Section 366, 354 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Woman Harassment Act.
Arguments by the Appellant
The learned Counsel appearing for the appellant contended that the identity of the accused was not proved as the victim is a visually challenged person; hence, her evidence could not be termed as eye witness. According to the Counsel, the evidence can be termed only as hearsay witness, which is inadmissible in law. Since the identity of the appellant could not be proved as required by law; it was submitted by the Counsel that the crime was not committed by the appellant.
The Court referred to the case of Patan Jamal Vali v. The State of Andhra Pradesh (2021) in which the Supreme Court had ruled that “The testimony of a prosecutrix with a disability cannot be considered weak or inferior.” The Court referred to precedents in which hearsay evidence was made admissible and observed that since the victim’s primary mode of identifying others is through the sound of their voice; hence the victim’s “testimony is entitled to equal weight as that of a prosecutrix who could have been able to visually identify the appellant.”
The Court stated that law does not distinguish the evidence of able-bodied person with that of the disabled, and any act in contradiction to this would amount to “negation of the constitutional principle of right of equality.”
Justice RMT. Teekaa Raman held that “as a blind lacks vision, but her version had a vision; hence, her evidence is admissible.” According to the Court, the prosecution had produced evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court rejected the appeal and upheld the decision of the Mahila Court.