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In a first, psychiatrist called in to nullify statement of eyewitness in 2015 murder case

Kolkata: For the first time in the state, an under-trial person facing murder charge has taken the aid of a psychiatrist, in an attempt to nullify the statement of the prime witness in the case.

The eyewitness in the case, who happens to be the cousin sister of the victim, had claimed that she had been senseless for four hours after finding out that the victim was brutally assaulted by the accused person on the night she was found murdered.

The case dates back to December 20, 2015, when Sumitra Jasu's body was found inside her residence at Budge Budge with her hands tied backwards and her mouth stuffed with a white piece of cloth.

Cash worth Rs 27,500 went missing from the house as well. Police arrested Amitava Pramanik six days after the crime, based on the statement of the victim's cousin sister Suchitra Mondal, who was in the room just beside Jasu on the fateful day.

She was sleeping and was awakened by shrill cries of help from the victim. As she reached the room she saw Amitava, who was a friend of the victim, pulling her hair with great force. She claimed that she was so shocked with the brutality of the scene that she lost her senses and regained it after four hours.

Psychiatrist Goutam Banerjee deposed before the 17th Additional Sessions Judge, Alipore, Subhasis Ghosal on Saturday and submitted that if a person suffers from epilepsy or a similar disorder, he/she may lose sense for a maximum of five minutes, while in case of a sudden shock, somebody can remain senseless for a maximum period of one and half hour.

In case of a cerebral stroke, a person needs hospitalisation, which has not happened in this case. "Hence, the claim of the prime witness that she had lost her senses for a period of four hours is questionable," he added.

"There have been numerous instances when the prosecution has taken the help of psychiatrists to prove the accused guilty of a crime, but this is for the first time when I, being a defence lawyer, had appealed to the honourable court to seek opinion of a psychiatrist as the statement of the prime witness in the case seemed to be questionable and my prayer was granted. The statement of the prime witness is extremely important in any case for the sake of justice," said defence lawyer Subhamoy Samaddar. Sontu Majumder is the public prosecutor in the case.

The argument in the case will continue for some more time, until the court delivers its final verdict.

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