No legal proposition that evidence of police officers, unless supported by independent witnesses, is untrustworthy of acceptance: Delhi High Court

There is no legal proposition that if the evidence provided by the police officers is not supported by independent witnesses, it is untrustworthy of acceptance. The Delhi High Court presided over by J. Vibhu Bakhru laid down this ratio in the case of Mohd. Musa vs. State [CRL.A. 271/2017].

In this case, the appellant was convicted for committing an offence punishable under Section 413 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 by Additional Session Judge, Karkardooma Courts. The appellant was accused guilty in nearly fourteen cases of possessing and selling stolen goods and vehicles when he was caught with a stolen bike at a vehicle checking point. He contended that the accusations were falsely implicated and the police planted stolen vehicles at his resident for recovery, to get off with the burden of solving numerous cases. There was no witness with the police to support their contentions and accusations on thirteen more cases after the appellant pleaded not-guilty before the court.

The Delhi High Court contended, “The fact that no independent witness had been joined in the recovery proceedings also does not indicate that the case set up by the prosecution is false.” The court further held, “The contention that the appellant cannot be considered as a habitual offender as he has not been convicted is also erroneous. The appellant is involved in a number of cases as is apparent from the SCRB Report. The same indicates that the appellant is involved in as many as thirty cases and most of the same are under Sections 379/411 of the IPC. Before the concerned ACMM, the appellant had pleaded guilty in the said cases. His statements were made voluntarily and without any force or coercion, to the effect that he was guilty of committing the offences under Sections 379/411/34 of IPC.”

The Court relied on the judgment of Kalpnath Rai v. State: AIR 1998 SC 201, in which the Supreme Court had held, “there is no legal proposition that evidence of police officers, unless supported by independent witnesses, is untrustworthy of acceptance”. The Supreme Court further held, “in cases where independent witnesses have not been joined, an added duty is placed on the court to adopt greater care while scrutinizing the evidence of police officials.”

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