Saturday, 12 September 2020

What are parameters for appreciating the evidence of chance witness?

 Learned counsel Shri Ghanekar branded this witness as a
chance witness. He argued that this witness could not account for his presence at the spot of the incident. According to learned counsel Shri Ghanekar, the evidence of chance witness is a weak type of evidence and reliance cannot be placed on it. The Honourable Supreme Court, in the case of Sachchey Lal Tiwari vs. State of Uttar Pradesh reported in (2004) 11 Supreme Court Cases 410 has held as under:-
7. Coming to the plea of the accused that PW
2 was a “chance witness” who has not explained
how he happened to be at the alleged place of
occurrence it has to be noted that the said witness
was independent witness. There was not even a
suggestion to the witness that he had any
animosity towards any of the accused. In a
murder trial by describing an independent
witness as “chance witness” it cannot be implied
thereby that his evidence is suspicious and his
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 passers-by 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 of explaining their presence.
The courts below have scanned the evidence of
PW 2 in great detail and found it to be reliable.
We find no reason to differ.
Even if it is accepted for the sake of argument that this
witness is a chance witness, still the evidence of chance witness cannot be discarded simply he being a chance witness. If his testimony is otherwise trustworthy, the Court can place reliance on it. This witness has assigned reason for his presence at the spot of the incident. He was plying auto rickshaw and owing to a mechanical defect, he had brought his auto rickshaw to Ladke garage and had parked it infront of the said garage. Therefore, this witness has explained his presence at the spot of the incident. His testimony is trustworthy. Nothing adverse to the prosecution could be extracted from this witness.{Para 46}


IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE OF BOMBAY
BENCH AT AURANGABAD
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 268 OF 2014

 Shyamsundar Vithal Pawle Vs The State of Maharashtra 

CORAM : S. V. Gangapurwala &
M.G. Sewlikar, JJ.

PRONOUNCED ON : 11th September, 2020.

JUDGMENT : ( PER M. G. SEWLIKAR, J.).
Read full judgment here: Click here
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