The Supreme Court observed that not allowing the relevant questions to be put to the eye-witness being the independent witness causes serious prejudice to the defence of the accused.

The Court observed thus in a criminal appeal arising out of a murder case of the year 1996.

The two-Judge Bench comprising Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal said, “According to us, not allowing the relevant questions to be put to the eye-witness, who is stated to be the independent witness, causes serious prejudice to the defence of the accused. It is too late in the day now to remand the case to the Trial Court for further cross-examination of the said witness because a period of 27 years has elapsed from the date of the incident.”

Senior Advocate Sanjay R. Hegde and Advocate Shreeyash U. Lalit appeared on behalf of the appellant and State while Senior Advocate S.K. Vyas appeared on behalf of the respondents.

In this case, there were five accused and one of them was prosecuted for the offence punishable under Section 109 read with Section 302 of IPC. The offence alleged was of committing the murder of a man. In an appeal preferred by the convicted accused, the High Court passed an order of acquittal which was challenged by way of two appeals before the Apex Court.

The Supreme Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case noted, “… it is brought on record that there were houses around the place where the incident took place and the prayers were going on in the nearby Hanuman temple, a place close to the place of the incident. The Police have not made any attempt to record the statements of the other alleged eye-witnesses. … An argument was attempted to be made that firstly, there is no prejudice caused to the accused by not permitting certain questions to be put to PW-1 and, secondly, even if, there is a prejudice, the evidence of PW-1 can be discarded.”

The Court further said that an accused has right to cross-examine a prosecution witness. It added that there are several doubts created which raise a question mark about the truthfulness of the witnesses’ version.

The Court also observed that though the independent witnesses were present, even an attempt was not made to record their statements.

“… we have no manner of doubt that the ultimate conclusion recorded by the High Court that the guilt of the accused was not established beyond a reasonable doubt, is certainly a plausible conclusion which could have been arrived at on the basis of the evidence of the prosecution. This is our view after carefully scrutinizing the evidence of the material prosecution witnesses”, concluded the Court.

Accordingly, the Apex Court dismissed the appeals and refused to interfere with the impugned judgment of acquittal.

Cause Title- Chandrasekhar Patel v. Suresh & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2023 INSC 1083)


Appellant: AOR Ashwin Kumar Nair, Advocates Ritik Gupta, Kunal Verma, Yugandhara Pawar Jha, Sunil Gupta, Shital Gupta, Lavanya Dhawan, AOR Pashupathi Nath Razdan, Advocates Maitreyee Jagat Joshi, Astik Gupta, Akanksha Tomar, Argha Roy, and Gauravkumar.

Respondents: AOR Yadav Narender Singh, Advocates Santosh Kumar, Rajiv R. Mishra, Harshvardhan Pathak, Yash Dixit, Suruchi Yadav, A.A.G. Nachiketa Joshi, AOR Sunny Choudhary, and Advocate Shashank Shekhar.

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