Discharged prosecution witness

Supreme Court: While dealing with the question of whether a witness who had been shown on the prosecution list but not examined on behalf of the prosecution could be permitted for examination as a defense witness, Division Bench of M.M. Sundresh and S.V.N. Bhatti, JJ., clarified that there was no bar in law restricting such examination as defense witness.

The Court highlighted the fact that the witness who was sought to be examined by defense in the instant matter, had not been examined by the prosecution. The Court found both the Courts wrong for declining the appellant’s request with the reasoning that “the prosecution has consequentially chosen to discharge the said witness and, therefore, he has not been put in the witness box to depose on behalf of the prosecution.”

The Court explained that there was no legal bar for examining such a witness as a defense witness, since it is the Trial Court’s duty to consider the evidentiary value of the said witness while recording its conclusion.

Therefore, the Court set aside the High Court order confirming Trial Court order denying witness examination on defense side. The Court permitted the appellant to examine the prosecution witness as defense witness and kept it open for the prosecution to cross-examine the said witness.

[Sunder Lal v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2024 SCC OnLine SC 112, Order dated 2-02-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case:

For Petitioners: Advocate on Record Divyesh Pratap Singh, Advocate Shivangi Singh, Advocate Amit Sangwan, Advocate Varun Singh, Advocate Anupam Chaudhary, Advocate Ranjana Singh, Advocate Sneha Chandna

For Respondents: Advocate on Record Garvesh Kabra, Advocate Vikas Bansal, Advocate Pooja Kabra, Advocate Sujata Kabra

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