A two-judge Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice BV Nagarathna has held that as per the settled proposition of law an injured eye witness's deposition has greater reliability and credibility which cannot be doubted.

Appeals were preferred by the Appellant – Complainant and the State assailing the judgment of the Hyderabad High Court which had acquitted Original Accused Nos. 1 to 3.

In this case, there were eleven accused who were accused of the offences under Sections 147, 148, 324, 326, 307, 427, and 302 read with Section 149 IPC. The Trial Court had convicted accused Nos. 1 to 3 for the offence under Section 148 and 302 IPC and sentenced them to undergo life imprisonment. However, the Court had acquitted accused Nos. 4 to 11.

The conviction was reversed by the High Court and even accused Nos 1 to 3 were acquitted for the offences for which they were convicted.

The Apex Court noted that the prosecution examined five important and relevant witnesses – PW1, PW3, PW5, PW6, and PW7 were the eyewitnesses, and PW6 and PW7 were the injured eye-witnesses. The Court also observed that accused nos. 1 to 3 was identified by PW1, PW3, and PW6.

Further, in this context, the Bench added –

"Though, the learned trial Court has disbelieved PW5, the High Court has not at all discussed and/or re-appreciated the evidence/deposition of PW5, which as a first appellate Court, the High Court was required to."

Additionally, the Court noted that in the deposition of the relevant witnesses – eyewitnesses/injured eye-witnesses, there were no major/material contradictions in the deposition of the eye-witnesses and injured eye-witnesses.

The Court also held, "The High Court has observed that PW1, PW3 & PW5 were planted witnesses merely on the ground that they were all interested witnesses being relatives of the deceased. Merely because the witnesses were the relatives of the deceased, their evidence cannot be discarded solely on the aforesaid ground. Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court has materially erred in discarding the deposition/evidence of PW1, PW3, PW5 & PW6 and even PW7."

The Court noted, "…the High Court had unnecessarily given weightage to some minor contradictions. The contradictions, if any, are not material contradictions which can affect the case of the prosecution as a whole. PW6 was an injured eye-witness and therefore his presence ought not to have been doubted and being an injured eye-witness, as per the settled proposition of law laid down by this Court in catena of decisions, his deposition has a greater reliability and credibility."

The Court added that the High Court committed a grave error in reversing the judgment and order passed by the Trial Court convicting the Accused Nos. 1 to 3 and erred in acquitting the same.

Accordingly, the Court set aside and quashed the impugned judgment of the High Court acquitting the Accused Nos. 1 to 3 for offences under Sections 148 and 302 and restored the judgment of the Trial Court convicting the Accused Nos. 1 to 3 for offences under Section 148 and 302 IPC sentencing them to life imprisonment. The Court directed the accused to surrender and undergo the remaining sentence.

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