The Supreme Court reiterated that minor contradictions can not be a ground to discredit the testimony of the witnesses in a criminal trial.
The court was considering an appeal filed by the accused who were convicted for the offences under Section 302 read with 34, IPC and Section 135(1) of the Bombay Police Act. In appeal, one of the contentions raised by the accused was that there are major contradictions in the deposition of two prosecution witnesses.
"The contradictions which are sought to be projected are minor contradictions which cannot be the basis to discard their evidence... If the entire evidence of all the witnesses is examined with reference to medical and other evidence on record, it is clear that the prosecution has proved the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt", the bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy observed while dismissing this contention.
The court referred to following observations made in Narayan Chetanram Chaudhary & Anr. v. State of Maharashtra 2000) 8 SCC 457:
"42. Only such omissions which amount to contradiction in material particulars can be used to discredit the testimony of the witness. The omission in the police statement by itself would not necessarily render the testimony of witness unreliable. When the version given by the witness in the court is different in material particulars from that disclosed in his earlier statements, the case of the prosecution becomes doubtful and not otherwise. Minor contradictions are bound to appear in the statements of truthful witnesses as memory sometimes plays false and the sense of observation differ from person to person. The omissions in the earlier statement if found to be of trivial details, as in the present case, the same would not cause any dent in the testimony of PW 2. Even if there is contradiction of statement of a witness on any material point, that is no ground to reject the whole of the testimony of such witness."
While dismissing the appeal, the bench observed:
We are clearly of the view that the prosecution has proved the case against all the appellant-accused beyond reasonable doubt. The omissions like not seizing the motorcycle and also not seizing the gold chain of one of the victims, by itself, is no ground to discredit the testimony of key witnesses who were examined on behalf of the prosecution, whose say is consistent, natural and trustworthy. 21. In that view of the matter, we are fully in agreement with the view taken by the trial court in recording the conviction against the appellants, as confirmed by the High Court. Therefore, no interference is called for with the concurrent findings recorded against the appellants.
Case: Kalabhai Hamirbhai Kachhot vs. State of Gujarat [Crl.A.No.216 of 2015 ]Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash ReddyCitation: LL 2021 SC 239