26 May 2020


Judgments

Supreme Court

Khurshid Ahmed Vs. State of Jammu and Kashmir

MANU/SC/0567/2018

15.05.2018

Criminal

If evidence of an eyewitness, though a close relative of victim, inspires confidence, it must be relied upon

Instant appeal is against the judgment passed by the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir. By the said judgment, the High Court reversed the order of acquittal passed by the trial Court against the Appellant, and convicted him for the offences punishable under Sections 302/341 of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) and sentenced him to suffer imprisonment for life and to pay a fine of Rs. 1,000 for the offence punishable under Section 302 of RPC and to pay a fine of Rs. 500 for the offence under Section 341 of RPC, with the direction to realize the fine amount from his estate. Question raised in present appeal is whether the prosecution was successful in proving the motive and what is the evidence available on record to prove the alleged act of the Accused.

The direct oral evidence available on record coupled with the medical evidence, points at the guilt of the Accused and not proving the motive for commission of the offence lost its significance in the facts of the case. There is no proposition in law that, relatives are to be treated as untruthful witnesses. On the contrary, reason has to be shown when a plea of partiality is raised to show that the witnesses had reason to shield actual culprit and falsely implicate the Accused. If the evidence of an eyewitness, though a close relative of the victim, inspires confidence, it must be relied upon without seeking corroboration with minute material particulars. It is no doubt true that, the Courts must be cautious while considering the evidence of interested witnesses. In his evidence, the description of the incident by PW9 clearly portrays the way in which the Accused attacked the deceased causing fatal head injury as propounded by the prosecution. The testimony of the father of deceased (PW9) must be appreciated in the background of the entire case.

The testimony of PW9 inspires confidence, and the chain of events and the circumstantial evidence thereof completely supports his statements which in turn strengthens the prosecution case with no manner of doubt. PW9 is a 'natural' witness to the incident. When analyzing the evidence available on record, Court should not adopt hyper technical approach but should look at the broader probabilities of the case. Basing on the minor contradictions, the Court should not reject the evidence in its entirety. Sometimes, even in the evidence of truthful witness, there may appear certain contradictions basing on their capacity to remember and reproduce the minute details. Particularly in the criminal cases, from the date of incident till the day they give evidence in the Court, there may be gap of years. The discrepancies and contradictions which do not go to the root of the matter, credence shall not be given to them. In any event, the paramount consideration of the Court must be to do substantial justice. The Trial Court has adopted a hyper technical approach which resulted in the acquittal of the Accused.

The power of the Appellate Court in an appeal against acquittal is the same as that of an appeal against conviction. But, in an appeal against acquittal, the Court has to bear in mind that, the presumption of innocence is in favour of the Accused and it is strengthened by the order of acquittal. At the same time, appellate Court will not interfere with the order of acquittal mainly because two views are possible, but only when the High Court feels that the appreciation of evidence is based on erroneous considerations and when there is manifest illegality in the conclusion arrived at by the trial Court. In the present case, there was manifest irregularity in the appreciation of evidence by the trial Court. The High Court based on sound principles of criminal jurisprudence, has interfered with the judgment of acquittal passed by the trial Court and convicted the Accused as the prosecution was successful in proving the guilt of the Accused beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution has proved the case beyond reasonable doubt and the appeal preferred by the Accused is bereft of any substance and accordingly dismissed.

Tags : Conviction Eye-witness Evidence

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