Witness harassment by adjournments discourages public from associating in the investigation of any criminal case: Delhi HC [Read Jt]

Witness harassment by adjournments discourages public from associating in the investigation of any criminal case: Delhi HC [Read Jt]


There is no presumption that the police witnesses are not credible witnesses.


Delhi High Court has observed that attitude of the courts of sending witness back by granting adjournments, is a major cause of harassment which discourages public from associating in the investigation of any criminal case. Justice Sunita Gupta made this observation while dismissing the appeal against conviction under NDPS Act.

The Appellant had contended that no effort was intentionally made by the Police to join independent person in investigation from a stable place. The state contended that the Police had contacted many persons from the Public, but all of them refused.

Witness harassment by adjournments

The Court said “It is common experience that public persons are generally reluctant to join police proceedings for variety of reasons. Investigation itself is a tedious process and a public witness, who is associated, has to spend hours at the spot. Normally, nobody from public is prepared to suffer any inconvenience for the sake of society. “

The Court observed that the reason why public witnesses are not readily agreeing to associate with investigation is harassment of public witness that takes place in the courts. Normally a public witness should be called once to depose in the court and his testimony should be recorded and he should be discharged. But experience shows that adjournments are given even in criminal cases on all excuses and if adjournments are not given, it is considered as a breach of the right of hearing of the accused, the Court said

Holding that the Police cannot be blamed for not associating independent witnesses, the Court said “These adjournments are specifically taken by counsels for accused persons, when witnesses are present, just to see that witnesses get harassed by calling them time and again. The excuses normally given in the courts are; the counsel having urgent personal work, left the court; death of some near relatives etc.; the counsel being busy in arguing other matter in other court or cross examining other witness in some other court. This attitude of the courts of sending witness back is a cause of harassment which discourages public from associating in the investigation of any case.”

No presumption that Police witnesses are not credible

The court further observed that there is no presumption that the police witnesses are not credible witnesses. Dismissing the appeals, the Court held “The testimony of every witness, whether from public or police, has to be judged at its own merits and the court can believe or disbelieve a police witness considering the intrinsic value of his testimony. Police witnesses are equally good witnesses and equally bad witnesses as any other witness and the testimony of police witness cannot be rejected on the ground that they are official witnesses. Presumption of honesty is as much available to a police officer which is available to any other official witness. There is no presumption that police officials are liars. The effect of non-joining of independent witness is only that the court has to view the submission of the police or other witnesses with caution and circumspection and the veracity of the same has to be decided before placing reliance upon them for arriving at any conclusion regarding the guilt of the accused”.

Read the order here.