A Supreme Court Bench of Justice BR Gavai, Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Sanjay Karol has upheld the conviction of eight men in a case of murder, while reiterating that a witness being a close relative is not a ground enough to reject his testimony. In that context, it was said that "Mechanical rejection of an even “partisan” or “interested” witness may lead to failure of justice. The principle of “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” is not one of general application."

Senior Counsel Nagamuthu S and Senior Counsel Dr K Radhakrishnan appeared for the Appellants. Counsel Shubhranshu Padhi appeared for the State.

In this case, the deceased was found to be murdered in broad daylight by virtue of 21 stab injuries inflicted on different vital parts of the body. Before the Trial Court, most of the prosecution witnesses turned hostile, but the prosecution case was held to be established beyond reasonable doubt through the unrefuted testimony of one witness, who was the brother of the deceased. Appreciating the witness's testimony, it was found that the eight Accused had committed the murder.

The point of consideration that arose before the Supreme Court was whether, based on the testimony of a solitary witness, eight men could be allowed to suffer incarceration for life.

The Supreme Court noted that "Perusal of cross-examination part of the testimony of PW-1 unrefutedly reveals all the accused hiding in bushes at the spot. This witness, despite being cross-examined extensively, is consistent in his testimony to the effect that the accused caught hold of the deceased and inflicted serious injuries upon his person. The accused had used chilli powder as a weapon to stop him from fleeing away and pushed him to the ground. Though, the witness is not clear as to which one of the accused had assaulted the deceased after he fell down, but then he is categorical with regard to the role played by each one of them". In furtherance, the Court also found that although the other witnesses had turned hostile in Court, their testimonies were consistent with that of PW-1.

In view of the same, the Court found the testimony of the sole witness being worthy of credence, trust-worthy, truthful and believable.

Further, the Court relied on the position of law stated in the case of Harbans Kaur Vs. State of Haryana, to observe that "there is no proposition of law which doubts the statement of a close relative simply for that reason".

The Court also noted the holding in Masalti Vs. State of UP, where it was held that the prosecution need not prove specific acts to specific persons. In that context, it was observed that "with neither the number nor the presence of the accused being disputed, we cannot, within law, hold that the accused have been wrongly convicted by the courts below."

In light of the same, the Court found that the appeals were lacking in merit and were subsequently dismissed.

Cause Title: Ravasaheb @ Ravasahebgouda Etc. vs State of Karnataka

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