17 June 2024


Supreme Court

Mahendra Singh and Ors. vs. State of M.P.




Conviction cannot be based on the testimony of a wholly unreliable witness

Instant appeals challenges the judgment delivered by the Division Bench of the High Court, thereby dismissing the appeal filed by the present appellants and upholding their conviction under Sections 148 and 302 read with Section 149 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC).

Witnesses are of three types, viz., (a) wholly reliable; (b) wholly unreliable; and (c) neither wholly reliable nor wholly unreliable. When the witness is “wholly reliable”, the Court should not have any difficulty inasmuch as conviction or acquittal could be based on the testimony of such single witness. Equally, if the Court finds that the witness is “wholly unreliable”, there would be no difficulty as neither conviction nor acquittal can be based on the testimony of such witness. It is only in the third category of witnesses that the Court has to be circumspect and has to look for corroboration in material particulars by reliable testimony, direct or circumstantial.

It is a settled law that same treatment is required to be given to the defence witness(es) as is to be given to the prosecution witness(es). From the evidence of the witnesses, it is amply clear that Amol Singh (P.W.6) could not have witnessed the incident.

The evidence of Amol Singh (P.W.6) would fall in the category of “wholly unreliable” witness. As such, no conviction could be based solely on his testimony. The corroboration sought by the High Court from the medical evidence was not justified. The medical evidence could only establish that the death was homicidal. However, it could not have been used to corroborate the version of Amol Singh (P.W.6) that he has witnessed the incident.

Insofar as the contention of Respondent¬-State that the prosecution has proved the motive is concerned, it is well settled that only because motive is established, the conviction cannot be sustained. The prosecution has failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt and as such, the accused are entitled to be given the benefit of doubt. The impugned judgments are quashed and set aside. The appellants are acquitted of the charges charged with. Appeals allowed.

Tags : Conviction Evidence Credibility

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