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Testimony of relative of the deceased is to be considered true – Supreme Court

In the case of Karulal & Ors Vs State of Madhya Pradesh [Criminal Appeal No. 316 of 2011] Supreme Court held that if the witnesses are otherwise trustworthy, past enmity by itself will not discredit any testimony.

The deceased with his son was grazing the field. His son suddenly heard his father cry out and saw the appellants attacking his father with axe, sword, farsa, lathi, etc. Hearing the noise, daughter and wife of the deceased also came to the spot and the appellants fled the scene. When the son of the deceased was taking his father to the hospital, the cart was stopped by the appellants who also threatened to kill of they lodged a complaint. On the way deceased died and within four hours of the incident a report was lodged. The appellants were convicted under Section 148, 302 read with Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and sentenced to life imprisonment with fine of Rs.1,000/- each and in default to undergo six months further rigorous imprisonment. For the conviction under Section 148 IPC, the accused were sentenced to 3 years rigorous imprisonment with fine of Rs.3,000/- each. The present appeal was filed against this conviction. The appellant claimed that they were falsely implicated and that the testimony of the deceased’s son and daughter should be discarded as they are the children of the deceased.

Court considered the law on evidentiary value of a related witness which was discussed in the case of Dalip Singh & Ors. Vs. State of Punjab AIR 1953 SC 364 as, “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.”

Further the case of Khurshid Ahmed vs. State of Jammu and Kashmir (2018) 7 SCC 429 was relied on where it was held, There is no proposition in law that relatives are to be treated as untruthful witnesses. On the contrary, reason has to be shown when a plea of partiality is raised to show that the witnesses had reason to shield actual culprit and falsely implicate the accused.”

Court held that, “Some witness may not support the prosecution story for their own reasons and in such situation, it is necessary for the Court to determine whether the other available evidence comprehensively proves the charge. In this case, it is seen that the prosecution version is cogent and supported by three eyewitnesses who have given a consistent account of the incident. Their testimonies are corroborated by the medical evidence. We are therefore of the view that the hostile witnesses will not affect the conviction of the appellants. On careful examination of the manner in which the learned Trial Judge analysed the evidence and rendered his verdict, the conviction of the appellants according to our assessment, was rightly ordered and correctly upheld by the High Court.”

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