When There Are Numerous Eyewitnesses, Prosecution’s Case Cannot Be Disbelieved On Ground That Few Of Them Weren’t Examined: SC
The Supreme Court while deciding an appeal has observed that when there are a number of eyewitnesses, the prosecution’s case cannot be disbelieved on the ground that that few of the eyewitnesses were not examined especially when the version of the eyewitnesses examined before the Court, inspires confidence.
The two-judge Bench of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal asserted, “It is true that when there are a number of eyewitnesses, the prosecution’s case cannot be disbelieved on the ground that few of the eyewitnesses were not examined, especially when the version of the eyewitnesses examined before the Court, inspires confidence. In the present case, version of PW¬1 and PW-2 does not inspire confidence. That is how the failure of the prosecution to examine three independent eyewitnesses whose statements were recorded, becomes very relevant.”
The Bench in this matter also observed that one of the witnesses attended the Court but was not examined.
Advocate Abhijit Sengupta appeared on behalf of the appellant while Senior Advocate Ankur Prakash appeared on behalf of the respondent.
In this case, the appellant was convicted for the offence punishable under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the IPC, and was sentenced to undergo life imprisonment. The appellant along with the co-accused was alleged to have chased and attacked the deceased person on his head with the blunt edge of the spade and continued to assault the other three persons with bamboo sticks.
The Supreme Court in view of the facts of the case noted, “… there is serious doubt whether PW¬1 and PW-2 had really seen the appellant assaulting the deceased with the blunt edge of the spade. There was a prior enmity between the two eyewitnesses and the accused. Moreover, at least three independent eyewitnesses were available whose statements under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short, ‘Cr.P.C.’) were admittedly recorded.”
The Court while considering the fact that the testimony of the witnesses who were allegedly injured witnesses, cannot be believed said that the adverse inference will have to be drawn on account of the prosecution’s failure to examine the three eyewitnesses.
“… we hold that the prosecution has failed to prove the guilt of the appellant beyond a reasonable doubt. … The order dated 8th February 2021 passed by this Court records that the appellant has surrendered. We, therefore, direct that the appellant shall be forthwith set at liberty unless he is required in connection with any other case”, held the Court.
Accordingly, the Apex Court allowed the appeal and set aside the conviction of the appellant.
Cause Title- Sita Ram v. The State of Uttar Pradesh