Sunday 26 September 2021

Are S 114(b) of the Evidence Act and S 133 of the Evidence Act regarding evidence of approver are contrary to each other?

 Before considering that evidence, it would be necessary to state the legal position in regard to the evidence of accomplices and approvers. Section 133 of the Evidence Act lays down that an accomplice shall be a competent witness against an accused person; and a conviction is not illegal merely because it proceeds upon the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice. Section 114 of the Evidence Act provides that the Court may presume the existence of any fact which it thinks likely to have happened, regard being had to the common course of natural events, human conduct and public and private business, in their relation to the facts of the particular case. Illustration (b) to s. 114 says that the Court may presume that an accomplice is unworthy of credit unless he is corroborated in material particulars. There is no antithesis between s. 133 and illustration (b) to s.114 of the Evidence Act, because the illustration only says that the Court 'may' presume a certain state of affairs. It does not seek to raise a conclusive and irre- butable presumption. Reading the two together the position which emerges is that though an accomplice is a competent witness and though a conviction may lawfully rest upon his uncorroborated testimony, yet the Court is entitled to presume and may indeed be justified in presuming in the generality of cases that no reliance can be placed on the evidence of an accomplice unless that evidence is corrobo- rated in material particulars, by which is meant that there has to be some independent evidence tending to incriminate, the particular accused in the commission of the crime. It is hazardous, as a matter of prudence, to proceed. upon the evidence of a self confessed criminal, who, in so far as an approver is concerned, has to testify in terms of the pardon tendered to him. The risk involved in convicting an accused on the testimony of an accomplice, unless it is corroborated in material particulars, is so real and potent that what during the early development of law was felt to be a matter of prudence has been elevated by judicial experience into a requirement or rule of law. All the same, it is necessary to understand that what has hardened into a rule of law is not that the conviction is illegal if it proceeds upon the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice but that the rule of corroboration must be present to the mind of the Judge and that corroboration may be dispensed with only it the peculiar circumstances of a case make it safe to dispense with it.

Supreme Court of India
Dagdu & Others Etc vs State Of Maharashtra on 19 April, 1977
Equivalent citations: 1977 AIR 1579, 1977 SCR (3) 636
Read full Judgment here: Click here
Print Page

No comments:

Post a Comment