Supreme Court, in Baldev Singh Vs State of Haryana, held that evidence of police witnesses cannot be discarded merely on the ground that they belong to police force and interested in the investigation and their desire to see the success of the case. This observation was made by Apex Court bench of Justices Jagdish Singh Kehar and R.Banumathi while dismissing the appeal filed by a person, against the High Court Judgment which had reversed the order of acquittal by trial court.
High Court had convicted the appellant (who was acquitted by the Trial Court) under Section 15 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985 (NDPS Act) on account of having been found in possession of poppy husk and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for twelve years and to pay a fine of Rs.1, 50,000/- and in default to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months. The appellant has raised doubts about the prosecution case mainly on two aspects viz.; (i) evidence of sole witness Ram Singh-ASI is not trustworthy and (ii) non-examination of Chander Singh-SI who prepared the rukka.
Rejecting the contention of the appellant regarding creditworthiness of the Police witness, the Court held that there is no legal proposition that evidence of police officials unless supported by independent evidence is unworthy of acceptance. The court, however, added that the evidence of police officials who are interested in the outcome of the result of the case needs to be carefully scrutinized and independently appreciated. Mere fact that they are police officials does not by itself give rise to any doubt about their creditworthiness, the court said. The Court referred to its own judgment in Girja Prasad (dead) by LRs. vs. State of M.P (2007) 7 SCC 625, in this regard.
“Admittedly, the police officials had no previous enmity with the appellant. It is not possible to accept the contention of the appellant that he is being falsely implicated as it is highly improbable that such a huge quantity has been arranged by the police officials in order to falsely implicate the appellant”, the court observed.
Regarding his second contention, the court held that mere non-examination of investigating officer does not in every case cause prejudice to the accused or affects the credibility of the prosecution case. Whether or not any prejudice has been caused to the accused is a question of fact to be determined in each case, the court said.
The court observed that the occurrence of crime was in the year 1990 and the appellant has suffered a protracted proceeding of about twenty five years. With regard to this fact, the sentence of imprisonment imposed on the appellant was reduced from twelve years to ten years.
Read the Judgment here.