Non joining of public witnesses by the IO is not mandatory in all circumstances and can, at the highest, be said to be a fault on his part, but simply because the IO has failed to join the public witness or there is some fault in the investigation, the same is insufficient to discredit the entire case of the prosecution. This judgment was delivered by division bench comprising Hon’ble Justice Vipin Singh and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar at Delhi High Court in the matter of Sonu @ Hemraj v. State (NCT of Delhi) [CRL. A. 351 of 2020].
The deceased boy was stabbed near the government school in Sangam Vihar. The investigating Officer (hereinafter “IO”) was informed about the incident and the fact that the deceased had been shifted already to the hospital. Thereafter, investigation was carried out and during investigation, the name of deceased was revealed as Roshan. IO recorded the statements of witnesses namely Shashi and eyewitness Akhil. After the completion of the investigation, the charge sheet was filed against accused persons who after complying with the provisions of Section 207 Cr.P.C., committed the case to the Court of Sessions for trial. The learned Additional Sessions Judge convicted the appellants for the commission of offence u/s 302/394/397/34 IPC. Aggrieved by the conviction of the trial court, the appellants have preferred this appeal.
The Hon’ble High Court observed that “As far as the question of non-joining of public witnesses at the time of arrest of appellants is concerned, PW 18 Gaurav Katheria and PW 20 Akhil accompanied by the police party and in our opinion, there was no need for the IO to join more public witnesses because it is the quality of the evidence and not the quantity which is essential. The case rests on the sole testimony of the eye witness who is PW 20 Akhil. We are conscious of the fact that when there is a sole eye witness, his evidence is to be accepted with an amount of caution, and in the light of other material available on record.”
The court while deciding upon the matter held that “In our opinion, there was satisfactory evidence on record to support conviction. To sum up, we are of the opinion that PW-18 and PW-20 are material eye witnesses of the case. PW-20 is the witness to the stabbing incident in which Roshan lost his life. The prosecution has also been able to prove the recoveries beyond the shadow of doubt. In view of the discussion hereinabove, we unhesitatingly are of the opinion that both the appellants are guilty of the offence committed. Both the appeals are accordingly dismissed. Impugned judgment dated 01.10.2019 and order on sentence dated 23.12.2019 passed by the Ld. Trial Court are, upheld. All pending applications (if any) are disposed of. Trial court record be sent back forthwith along with a certified copy of this judgment.”