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Ocular Evidence Is The Best Evidence Unless There Are Reasons To Doubt It: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
26 July 2021 2:24 PM GMT
Ocular Evidence Is The Best Evidence Unless There Are Reasons To Doubt It: Supreme Court
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Ocular evidence is considered the best evidence unless there are reasons to doubt it, the Supreme Court observed while setting aside an order of High Court that acquitted an accused in a murder case.The bench comprising Justices Navin Sinha and R. Subhash Reddy observed that the ocular evidence may be disbelieved only when there is a gross contradiction between medical evidence and...

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Ocular evidence is considered the best evidence unless there are reasons to doubt it, the Supreme Court observed while setting aside an order of High Court that acquitted an accused in a murder case.

The bench comprising Justices Navin Sinha and R. Subhash Reddy observed that the ocular evidence may be disbelieved only when there is a gross contradiction between medical evidence and oral evidence, and the medical evidence makes the ocular testimony improbable and rules out all possibility of ocular evidence being true.

In this case, the High Court had reversed the Trial Court order convicting the accused on the ground that the evidence of the eye­witnesses is inconsistent with the medical evidence, regarding the nature of injuries vis­à­vis the weapons of offence.

The bench, referring to evidence on record, addressed the contention that identification was not possible in the night to give them the benefit of doubt.

"There is evidence about the availability of light near the place of occurrence. Even otherwise, that there may not have been any source of light is hardly considered relevant in view of the fact that the parties were known to each other from earlier. The criminal jurisprudence developed in this country recognizes that the eye sight capacity of those who live in rural areas is far better than compared to the town folks. Identification at night between known persons is acknowledged to be possible by voice, silhouette, shadow, and gait also. Therefore, we do not find much substance in the submission of the respondents that identification was not possible in the night to give them the benefit of doubt. " [relied on Nathuni Yadav vs State of Bihar, (1998) 9 SCC 238]

The court also observed that the High Court grossly erred in appreciation of evidence by holding that the alleged weapon was a simple iron rod without noticing the evidence that it had a sharp turn edge. :

"17. Ocular evidence is considered the best evidence unless there are reasons to doubt it. The evidence of PW­2 and PW­10 is unimpeachable. It is only in a case where there is a gross contradiction between medical evidence and oral evidence, and the medical evidence makes the ocular testimony improbable and rules out all possibility of ocular evidence being true, the ocular evidence may be disbelieved. In the present case, we find no inconsistency between the ocular and medical evidence. The High Court grossly erred in appreciation of evidence by holding that muddamal no.5 was a simple iron rod without noticing the evidence that it had a sharp turn edge."

While restoring the conviction recorded by the Trial Court, the bench said that the acquittal by the High Court is based on misappreciation of  the evidence and the overlooking of relevant evidence thereby arriving at a wrong conclusion.

"18...It is not a case where two views are possible or the credibility of the witnesses is in doubt. Neither is it a case of a solitary uncorroborated witness. The conclusion of the High Court is therefore held to be perverse and irrational. The acquittal is therefore held to be unsustainable and is set aside. In the nature of the assault, Section 304 Part II, IPC has no application.", the court said.

The bench also directed the accused to surrender within two weeks to serve out the remaining period of their sentence.

Case: Pruthiviraj Jayantibhai Vanol Vs. Dinesh Dayabhai Vala [ CrA 177 OF 2014]
Coram: Justices Navin Sinha and R. Subhash Reddy
Citation: LL 2021 SC 324

Click here to Read/Download Judgment




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