This prompted the judges to ask her if she was not able to recognise herself. When a recorded conversation was played, she said it was not her voice. The court warned her that her voice sample would be taken and sent for examination.
Three months pregnant with her second child, Swathi stood in a specially erected ‘witness box’ in front of a division bench and denied any relationship with Gokulraj.
When pointed out that this was contrary to what she had said in a signed statement under oath, as required under Section 164 of CrPC, to the magistrate during trial, she said she was forced by police to make such a statement.
Asked if she knew Gokulraj, she said she knew him as a classmate and spoke to him occasionally, but was not close to him and did not go with him to the temple in Tiruchengode on the fateful date on June 23, 2015. Gokulraj was kidnapped from the temple by a gang of caste fanatics, murdered and thrown on train tracks in Pallipalayam.
Struck by her stubbornness, the bench of Justice M S Ramesh and Justice N Anand Venkatesh reminded her that she was under oath and that the court would be constrained to initiate contempt proceedings against her if the statements turned out to be false or lies.
“Truth, justice and righteousness were more important than religion or caste,” they said. The caste murder of Gokulraj shook Tamil Nadu in 2015, and a total of 17 people, including Yuvaraj, founder of caste outfit Dheeran Chinnamalai Gounder Peravai, were arrested.
In June this year, a special court in Madurai awarded life imprisonment to 10 of them, including Yuvaraj, and acquitted five. While the convicted persons have filed appeals against the sentence, Gokulraj’s mother moved high court for enhancement of sentence.
The present bench summoned Swathi by invoking Section 391 of CrPC as it noticed her somersaulting and turning hostile despite recording her statement under oath to a magistrate earlier. It had also ordered police protection to her and her family.
On Friday, when the court asked Swathi as to whether she met Gokulraj on the day of occurrence, she denied meeting Gokulraj. The court then showed a CCTV footage of the temple where Gokulraj was seen with Swathi on the day of occurrence.
When judges asked if she was able to recognise the boy in the footage, Swathi replied that it looked like Gokulraj. When asked about the girl in the footage, Swathi denied that it was her. Though footage from several angles was played at the court, Swathi kept repeating that she was not the girl in the video.
At around 12.45pm, the court granted her a break. Since she was pregnant, she was taken to a clinic on court campus to assess whether her vitals were alright. She stood her ground when the court resumed proceedings at 2.15pm. The court then directed her to appear before the court on November 30.