Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Explaining the law on the credibility of the testimony of an interested eye-witness, the bench of NV Ramana and SA Nazeer, JJ held:

“If the evidence of an eyewitness, though a close relative of the victim, inspires confidence, it must be relied upon without seeking corroboration with minute material particulars. It is no doubt true that the Courts must be cautious while considering the evidence of interested witnesses.”

The Court was hearing the appeal of a man who was accused of abusing and attacking a shopkeeper with iron rod who was heading home in the evening with his father. The shopkeeper later succumbed to the injuries on his head. The accused had assaulted the deceased after a prior tussle between them during the daytime at the shop of the deceased over a financial transaction. One iron rod being the weapon of assault was also recovered at the instance of the accused.

The father of the deceased was the sole eye-witness in the case and the therefore, the entire case depended upon the veracity of his testimony. The accused, hence, argued that he was an interested witness and hence, his testimony can be relied on. He also argued that if the eyewitness was present at the time of the incident then why didn’t he receive any injury? To this, the Court answered:

 “It is not necessary that to prove an offence, every eyewitness who had seen the accused hitting the victim should also receive injuries.”

The Court, hence, calling the father of the deceased a ‘natural’ witness to the incident, noticed that the chain of events and the circumstantial evidence thereof completely supports the eyewitness’s statements which in turn strengthens the prosecution case with no manner of doubt.

As a word of caution for the courts, the bench said:

“When analyzing the evidence available on record, Court should not adopt hyper technical approach but should look at the broader probabilities of the case. (…)  Particularly in the criminal cases, from the date of incident till the day they give evidence in the Court, there may be gap of years. Hence the Courts have to take all these aspects into consideration and weigh the evidence. The discrepancies and contradictions which do not go to the root of the matter, credence shall not be given to them. In any event, the paramount consideration of the Court must be to do substantial justice.”

[Khurshid Ahmed v. State of Jammu and Kashmir, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 529, decided on 15.05.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: The Court recently addressed a criminal petition in which the appellant had appealed against his conviction by trial court under S. 307 IPC and sentenced accordingly. The main contention on which the accused based his appeal was that the case against him was not proved beyond reasonable doubt as there was no eyewitness against himself except the injured himself and his two minor children who the counsel said, could be tutored very easily.

The Court examined all the witnesses in the case along with its facts and observed that it is true that a child witness is susceptible to be swayed by what others tell him or her and therefore, he/she is an easy prey to tutoring. However, the Bench of Lok Pal Singh, J. said that when the evidence lead by a child witness is found reliable, it cannot be discarded merely on the ground that the same has been made by child witness.

The Court after re-appreciating the entire incident, came to the conclusion that the evidence by child witnesses corroborated the statements of other witnesses and thus, it was worth relying on and dismissed the appeal. [Rakesh Mohan Juyal v. State of Uttaranchal, 2017 SCC OnLine Utt 1508, decided on 12.12.2017]