Monday, 25 December 2017

How to appreciate evidence of interested witnesses?

Testimony of Interested/Inimical Witnesses

24. On the issue of appreciation of evidence of interested witnesses, Dalip Singh v. State of Punjab MANU/SC/0031/1953 : AIR 1953 SC 364 : 1954 SCR 145, is one of the earliest cases on the point. In that case, it was held as follows:

A witness is normally to be considered independent unless he or she springs from sources which are likely to be tainted and that usually means unless the witness has cause, such as enmity against the accused, to wish to implicate him falsely. Ordinarily, a close relative would be the last to screen the real culprit and falsely implicate an innocent person. It is true, when feelings run high and there is personal cause for enmity, that there is a tendency to drag in an innocent person against whom a witness has a grudge along with the guilty, but foundation must be laid for such a criticism and the mere fact of relationship far from being a foundation is often a sure guarantee of truth.
25. Similarly, in Piara Singh and Ors. v. State of Punjab MANU/SC/0119/1977 : AIR 1977 SC 2274 : (1977) 4 SCC 452, this Court held:

It is well settled that the evidence of interested or inimical witnesses is to be scrutinised with care but cannot be rejected merely on the ground of being a partisan evidence. If on a perusal of the evidence the Court is satisfied that the evidence is creditworthy there is no bar in the Court relying on the said evidence.
26. In Hari Obula Reddy and Ors. v. The State of Andhra Pradesh MANU/SC/0128/1980 : (1981) 3 SCC 675, a three-judge Bench of this Court observed:

.. it is well settled that interested evidence is not necessarily unreliable evidence. Even partisanship by itself is not a valid ground for discrediting or rejecting sworn testimony. Nor can it be laid down as an invariable Rule that interested evidence can never form the basis of conviction unless corroborated to a material extent in material particulars by independent evidence. All that is necessary is that the evidence of interested witnesses should be subjected to careful scrutiny and accepted with caution. If on such scrutiny, the interested testimony is found to be intrinsically reliable or inherently probable, it may, by itself, be sufficient, in the circumstances of the particular case, to base a conviction thereon.
27. Again, in Ramashish Rai v. Jagdish Singh MANU/SC/0976/2004 : (2005) 10 SCC 498, the following observations were made by this Court:

The requirement of law is that the testimony of inimical witnesses has to be considered with caution. If otherwise the witnesses are true and reliable their testimony cannot be thrown out on the threshold by branding them as inimical witnesses. By now, it is well-settled principle of law that enmity is a double-edged sword. It can be a ground for false implication. It also can be a ground for assault. Therefore, a duty is cast upon the court to examine the testimony of inimical witnesses with due caution and diligence.

28. A survey of the judicial pronouncements of this Court on this point leads to the inescapable conclusion that the evidence of a closely related witnesses is required to be carefully scrutinised and appreciated before any conclusion is made to rest upon it, regarding the convict/accused in a given case. Thus, the evidence cannot be disbelieved merely on the ground that the witnesses are related to each other or to the deceased. In case the evidence has a ring of truth to it, is cogent, credible and trustworthy, it can, and certainly should, be relied upon. 


Criminal Appeal No. 1482 of 2013

Decided On: 20.10.2016

 Yogesh Singh Vs.  Mahabeer Singh and Ors.

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amitava Roy, JJ.

Citation:(2017) 11 SCC 195.
Read full judgment here: Click here

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