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Evidence Of Witnesses Cannot Be Discarded Merely Because They Were Relatives Of Deceased Victim: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
7 March 2022 12:21 PM GMT
Evidence Of Witnesses Cannot Be Discarded Merely Because They Were Relatives Of Deceased Victim: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reiterated that evidence of witnesses cannot be discarded merely because they were the relatives of the deceased victim.Eleven accused were tried together in a murder case. The trial Court convicted three accused for the offences under Sections 148 & 302 IPC and acquitted others. The conviction of these three accused was reversed by the High Court. According to the...

The Supreme Court reiterated that evidence of witnesses cannot be discarded merely because they were the relatives of the deceased victim.

Eleven accused were tried together in a murder case. The trial Court convicted three accused for the offences under Sections 148 & 302 IPC and acquitted others. The conviction of these three accused was reversed by the High Court. According to the High Court, the eye witnesses, who are relatives of the deceased, were planted witnesses.

While considering the appeal, the Apex Court bench observed that there are no major/material contradictions in the deposition of the eye-witnesses and injured eye-witnesses.

"Merely because the witnesses were the relatives of the deceased, their evidence cannot be discarded solely on the aforesaid ground. Therefore, in the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court has materially erred in discarding the deposition/evidence.", the bench comprising Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna observed.

The High Court had also held that the FIR was not registered at the time as claimed by the prosecution, but it was registered many hours after the occurrence and sent to the Magistrate with unexplained delay and according to the High Court, this facilitated the police to falsely implicate the accused. 

"However, the FIR was lodged within seven hours. As per the prosecution, it was lodged immediately. The interpolation of the time of the incident, 0.30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., could not be explained as the same was not raised before the trial Court. No question on the same was asked to the concerned witnesses. Even otherwise, in the facts and circumstances of the case, the delay of seven hours cannot be said to be fatal to the prosecution case. Even the FIR was sent to the Magistrate within 24 hours, as required under the provisions of the Cr.P.C. PWs1, 3 & 6 are all consistent in their testimony and they have fully supported the case of the prosecution. We see no reason to doubt their presence and their deposition.", the court noted.

While allowing the appeal, the bench noted that the High Court gave unnecessarily weightage to some minor contradictions.

"The contradictions, if any, are not material contradictions which can affect the case of the prosecution as a whole. PW6 was an injured eye-witness and therefore his presence ought not to have been doubted and being an injured eye-witness, as per the settled proposition of law laid down by this Court in catena of decisions, his deposition has a greater reliability and credibility.", the court said.

Headnotes

Criminal Trial - Merely because the witnesses were the relatives of the deceased, their evidence cannot be discarded. (Para 10)

Criminal Trial - Unnecessarily weightage shall not be given to some minor contradictions - Deposition of injured eye witness has a greater reliability and credibility. (Para 12)

Summary - Appeal against High Court judgment reversing conviction of accused in a murder case - Allowed - The contradictions, if any, are not material contradictions which can affect the case of the prosecution as a whole - Delay of seven hours in lodging FIR cannot be said to be fatal to the prosecution case - Conviction recorded by Trial Court restored.

Case: M. Nageswara Reddy vs State of Andhra Pradesh | CrA 72-73 OF 2022 | 7 March 2022
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 251
Coram: Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna

Click here to Read/Download Judgment




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