SUPREME COURT HOLDS THAT IF THE TESTIMONY OF RELATED WITNESS IS TRUTHFUL, IT CAN FORM THE BASIS OF CONVICTION

A Three Judge Bench of the Hon’ble #SupremeCourt comprising of Justices RV Ramana, Suryakant and Hrishikesh Roy passed a Judgment dated October 9, 2020 in the case of Karulal & Ors. v. State of Madhya Pradesh Criminal Appeal No. 316 of 2011 and held that if the #testimony of the #related #witnesses is truthful, it can form the basis of #conviction.

In the present case, an Appeal was preferred by the 5 Accused challenging the Judgment and Order dated 23.6.2009 whereby the High Court of Madhya Pradesh upheld their conviction under Section 148, 302 read with Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. On completion of the investigation, a charge sheet was filed against five accused under 148, 302 read with Section 149 of the IPC, whereas, four others were charged under Section 506 IPC. However, the Trial Judge acquitted the four accused under Section 506 as the charges against them could not be proved.

The High Court of Madhya Pradesh in appeal, rejected the contention of the Appellants and held that the fact though the eye witnesses may not have seen the assault on the deceased happening, they reached the crime spot on hearing the shrieks of the deceased.  Their testimony that the accused was armed with lethal weapons and they fled the crime spot after the assault is pertinent to the case and cannot be ignored. The High Court opined that the testimony of the eye witnesses is consistent and the same is corroborated by the medical evidence. The High Court upheld the Order of conviction passed by the Trial Court and dismissed the Appeal.

In the Apex Court, the Appellants contended that because of past enmity they have been falsely implicated whereas the Respondent contended that medical evidence and injuries corroborate the oral testimonies.

While addressing the contentions raised by the Appellants and placing reliance on several judgments on law of evidentiary value of a related witness, the Court opined that being related to the deceased does not mean that they will falsely implicate innocent persons. In this case, an unrelated witness had also deposed supporting the testimony of related witnesses.

The Bench observed that:

“The above precedents make it amply clear that the testimony of the related witness, if found to be truthful, can be the basis of conviction and we have every reason to believe that PW3 and PW12 were immediately present at the spot and identified the accused with various deadly weapons in their hands.”

On the issue of past enmity raised by the Appellants, the Court observed the following:

“22. If the witnesses are otherwise trustworthy, past enmity by itself will not discredit any testimony. In fact the history of bad blood gives a clear motive for the crime. Therefore this aspect does not in our assessment; aid the defence in the present matter.”

The Apex Court thus dismissed the Appeals and upheld the Order of Conviction passed by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh.

Suchitra Upadhyay

Associate

The Indian Lawyer & Allied Services

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