Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
News Updates

Orissa High Court Upholds Conviction Of Accused Basing Upon Testimony Of 'Injured Witness' In 22 Yrs Old Murder Case

Jyoti Prakash Dutta
12 Sep 2022 5:00 AM GMT
Orissa High Court Upholds Conviction Of Accused Basing Upon Testimony Of Injured Witness In 22 Yrs Old Murder Case
x

The Orissa High Court has upheld the conviction of three persons charged with murder and the ensuing life sentence awarded to them in a '22-year-old' case. While affirming the said conviction, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Chittaranjan Dash considerably relied on the testimony of an 'injured witness' and held, "Having carefully examined the evidence...

The Orissa High Court has upheld the conviction of three persons charged with murder and the ensuing life sentence awarded to them in a '22-year-old' case. While affirming the said conviction, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Chittaranjan Dash considerably relied on the testimony of an 'injured witness' and held,

"Having carefully examined the evidence of P.W. 14, this Court is satisfied that his evidence is clear and consistent and lends assurance as to its truthfulness and reliability. It stands corroborated by the medical evidence as well as the evidence of P.W.7."

Factual Background:

On 8th April 2000, when the deceased Keshab Naik was sleeping in his house, the appellants i.e., accused numbers 1 to 4 dragged him to the village road holding an iron rod, axe and other kinds of deadly weapons and assaulted him with those weapons. When Bholanath Naik (P.W. 14), the son of deceased Keshab, tried to intervene, he too was assaulted by the accused with iron rod, lathis, axe and curved stick causing him bleeding injuries.

Thereafter, the four accused fled away from the spot with their respective weapons. P.W. 14 then lost his consciousness and when he regained his senses, he went to the house of Dhyana Chandra Behera (P.W.7). He was taken on a scooter to Singda Police Outpost where he verbally reported the matter to the Police, who reduced his version to writing.

The Police then reached the spot and brought the deceased to the hospital. Keshab Chandra Naik expired on the same date. After receiving the message regarding his death, the Police changed the offence to Section 302, IPC. Subsequently, the accused persons were apprehended. Pursuant to statements made by them, their respective weapons were discovered by the Police. On completion of investigation, a charge-sheet was submitted against the four accused. The prosecution examined sixteen witnesses whereas the defence examined one witness.

The lone defence witness was produced to show that the deceased had been assaulted by his own son, who had fled away due to differences of opinion. However, in his cross-examination, he claimed that Bholanath had nothing in his hand and that nobody had chased him. He apparently did not notice any injury on the person of Bholanath.

The Trial Court on an analysis of the evidence, came to the conclusion that the prosecution had proved the case against the four accused beyond all reasonable doubts and then proceeded to convict and sentenced them to life imprisonment. Being aggrieved by the said order, the accused persons filed appeal in the High Court.

Court's Findings:

The Court observed that the settled position of law with regard to the testimony of an injured eye-witness has been explained by the Supreme Court in Abdul Sayeed v. State of Madhya Pradesh, wherein it was held,

"The law on the point can be summarised to the effect that the testimony of the injured witness is accorded a special status in law. This is as a consequence of the fact that the injury to the witness is an inbuilt guarantee of his presence at the scene of the crime and because the witness will not want to let his actual assailant go unpunished merely to falsely implicate a third party for the commission of the offence. Thus, the deposition of the injured witness should be relied upon unless there are strong grounds for rejection of his evidence on the basis of major contradictions and discrepancies therein."

The Court also referred to the observations made in Ramvilas v. State of Madhya Pradesh, wherein it was pointed out that "evidence of the injured witnesses is entitled to a great weight and very cogent and convincing grounds are required to discard the evidence of the injured witnesses."

The Bench observed that P.W. 14 has clearly spoken about the manner in which the offence took place. The four accused entered the house, dragged Keshab Chandra Naik outside to a distance of 20 cubits from the house and then assaulted him with the iron rod, axe, bamboo lathi and a lathi fixed with sickle. When P.W. 14 tried to separate the accused persons from his father, they assaulted him as well. P.W. 14 sustained bleeding injuries throughout his body.

Further it was noted, while the P.Ws. 1 to 3 and P.Ws. 10 and 11 turned hostile, P.W. 7 supported the version of P.W.14 and testified that he had brought the injured P.W. 14 to the Singda outpost. He stated how the deceased had disclosed to him in the vehicle and also in the hospital that the accused persons had caused the injuries.

Accordingly, the Court was satisfied that the prosecution was able to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubts against the four accused. It, therefore, did not find any error having been committed by the trial court in convicting the appellants and sentencing them in the manner indicated above. Thus, the same were sustained.

Case Title: Harekrushna Naik & Ors. v. State of Orissa

Case No.: CRLA No. 70 of 2004

Judgment Dated: 6th September 2022

Coram: Dr. S. Muralidhar, CJ. & Chittaranjan Dash, J.

Judgment Authored By: Dr. S. Muralidhar, CJ.

Counsel for the Appellants: Mr. S.C. Puspalak

Counsel for the Respondent: Mr. Janmejaya Katikia, Additional Government Advocate

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ori) 137

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment

 

Next Story