Conviction Of Accused Purely Based On Oral Testimony Of Interested Witnesses Without Sufficient Corroboration Is Unsustainable: SC
The Supreme Court has acquitted three murder accused while observing that the conviction of the accused purely on the basis of oral testimony of the interested witnesses, without sufficient corroboration, would not be sustainable.
The bench of Justice B.R. Gavai, Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Sanjay Karol noted that in the category of “wholly reliable” witness, there is no difficulty for the prosecution to press for conviction and likewise in case of “wholly unreliable” witness, there is no difficulty, inasmuch as no conviction could be made.
The Court noted that the real difficulty comes in case of the third category of evidence which is partly reliable and partly unreliable. The Court held that in such cases, the court is required to be circumspect and seek further corroboration from reliable testimony, direct or circumstantial.
As per the prosecution case, the accused persons armed with deadly weapons, formed an unlawful assembly, entered the house of deceased Kartikram and assaulted him. As a result of the said assault, Kartikram died on the spot.
After the conclusion of the investigation, a charge-sheet came to be filed against 12 accused persons.
The Trial Judge convicted all the accused persons. The Division Bench of the High Court dismissed the appeals filed by the accused persons.
Advocate Vikas Upadhyay appeared on behalf of accused Nos. 8 to 10, Advocate Sumeer Sodhi appeared on behalf of the respondent-State. Advocate Renjith B. Marar was the amicus curiae in this case.
The Court noted that in case of proven previous enmity, a possibility of false implication cannot be ruled out. The Court further observed that the names of three appellants-accused are not mentioned in the merg report, which was lodged prior to the lodging of FIR, and their names were not found in the inquest panchnama and spot panchnama.
“Taking into consideration the delay in lodging the FIR, with the circumstance of their names not being mentioned in the contemporaneous documents, the possibility of the said accused being falsely implicated cannot be ruled out.”, the Court noted.
The Court held that the conviction of these accused purely on the basis of oral testimony of the interested witnesses, without sufficient corroboration, would not be sustainable.
Thus the Court held that the appellants-accused are entitled to benefit of doubt. Accordingly, the Court set aside the Order of conviction and sentence.
Cause Title- Nand Lal & Others v. The State Of Chhattisgarh