Saturday, 1 June 2019

Basic concept of Chance Witness

CHANCE WITNESS. “If by coincidence or chance a person happens to be at the place of. occurrence at the time it is taking place, he is called a chance witness." The expression chance witnesses is borrowed from foreign countries.


 The defining attributes of a ‘chance witness’ were

explained by Mahajan, J., in the case of Puran Vs. The State

of Punjab, AIR 1953 SC 459. It was held that such witnesses
have the habit of appearing suddenly on the scene when
something is happening and then disappearing after noticing
the occurrence about which they are called later on to give
evidence.

In a murder trial by describing the independent witnesses as 'chance witnesses' it cannot be implied thereby that their evidence is suspicious and their presence at the scene doubtful. Murders are not committed with previous notice to witnesses; soliciting their presence. If murder is committed in a dwelling house, the inmates of the house are natural witnesses. If murder is committed in a street, only passersby will be witnesses. Their evidence cannot be brushed aside or viewed with suspicion on the ground that they are mere 'chance witnesses'. The expression 'chance witness' is borrowed from countries where every man's home is considered his castle and everyone must have an explanation for his presence elsewhere or in another man's castle. It is quite unsuitable an expression in a country where people are less formal and more casual, at any rate in the matter explaining their presence.

 It is to be seen that although the

evidence of a chance witness is acceptable in India, yet the chance
witness has to reasonably explain the presence at that particular
point more so when his deposition is being assailed as being tainted.
 The evidence of a chance witness
requires a very cautious and close
scrutiny and a chance witness must
adequately explain his presence at the
 place of occurrence 
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