The Supreme Court observed that police cannot be allowed to tutor the prosecution witnesses.

The Court, in a judgment delivered recently, directed the Director General of Police of Tamil Nadu to enquire into the alleged conduct of tutoring witnesses by police officials.

The Court had to discard interested witnesses' testimonies as an effect of the possibility of “teaching” the witnesses inside a Police Station. “This amounts to gross misuse of power by the Police machinery,” the court stated.

Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal observed, “One can reasonably imagine the effect of “teaching” the witnesses inside a Police Station. This is a blatant act by the police to tutor the material prosecution witnesses. All of them were interested witnesses. Their evidence will have to be discarded as there is a distinct possibility that the said witnesses were tutored by the police on the earlier day…The Police cannot be allowed to tutor the prosecution witness. This conduct becomes more serious as other eyewitnesses, though available, were withheld.

Advocate Mayilsamy K represented the appellant, while AOR D. Kumanan appeared for the respondent.

The accused were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment under Section 302 of the IPC. The Supreme Court found that precisely a day before the evidence of witnesses was recorded before the trial court, they were called to the Police Station and were taught to depose in a particular manner.

The Court was surprised to note that both the trial court and the High Court overlooked this critical aspect.

Calling such an instance shocking, the Court held that “adverse inference must be drawn against the prosecution. Hence, there is a serious doubt created about the genuineness of the prosecution case. The benefit of this substantial doubt must be given to the appellants.

Consequently, the Court acquitted the accused since the evidence presented had to be discarded as there was a “distinct possibility that the said witnesses were tutored by the police.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court disposed of the petition.

Cause Title: Manikandan v. State (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 272)


Appellant: AOR P. Soma Sundaram and Vijay Kumar; Advocates Mayilsamy K, Gayathiri A S, Arun Pandiyan S, B Ragunath, and NC Kavitha

Respondent: AOR D. Kumanan; Advocates Sheikh F. Kalia, Vishal Tyagi and Chinmay Anand

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