The witness may be called "interested" only when he or she derives some benefit from the result of a litigation in the decree in a civil case, or in seeing an accused person punished, the Supreme Court observed while rejecting a defence contention in a criminal appeal.
In Sadayappan @ Ganesan vs. State, the defense had raised an argument that the testimonies of interested witnesses who are relatives of the deceased should not have been relied upon by the Trial Court. Sadyappan was convicted by the Trial Court (which was later upheld by the High Court) for the murder of his neighbour Selvam @ Thangaraj.
In the appeal filed by the accused, the bench comprising Justice NV Ramana and Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar observed that their testimonies has stood the rigour of cross-examination and though they may be related but they could not be labelled as interested witnesses. It said:
"Criminal law jurisprudence makes a clear distinction between a related and interested witness. A witness cannot be said to be an "interested" witness merely by virtue of being a relative of the victim. The witness may be called "interested" only when he or she derives some benefit from the result of a litigation in the decree in a civil case, or in seeing an accused person punished.
Referring to their testimonies, which corroborated the prosecution version, the bench, dismissed the appeal and observed:
"Though they are related to each other and to the deceased as well, their evidence cannot be discarded by simply labelling them as "interested" witnesses. After thoroughly scrutinizing their evidence, we do not find any direct or indirect interest of these witnesses to get the accused punished by falsely implicating him so as to meet out any vested interest."
Some witnesses in this case had stated that, as the deceased did not turn up after leaving home at 11 pm on the previous night, they went in search of him and found his dead body in 'Vaalaithope'. One of them, who is a nephew of the deceased also deposed in his statement that when he went to Sirumugai Police Station he saw the accused persons there and witnessed their confessional statements recorded by the police.The wife of the deceased had stated that the deceased was last seen together with the accused.