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It is the quality of evidence that is of relevance, not the number of witnesses: Supreme Court of India

‘The failure to examine any available independent witness is inconsequential. It is the quality of the evidence and not the number of witnesses that is relevant.’ This unassailable principle was upheld by the Supreme Court of India in the Special leave petition (Crl.) presided over by J. R.F. Nariman and J. Navin Sinha in the case of Asharam Tiwari vs. State of Madhya Pradesh [Crl.A. No. 29/2021].

In this instance, the appellant had been convicted for the murder of two and assaulting three persons along with three co-accused. The genesis of the occurrence lay in the purchasing of land by the deceased from appellant’s father. The appellant along with co accused armed with weapons, barged into their land premises demanding it back and on refusal, committed offence under section 302, 324, 325 and 323 r/w 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. The appellant contended that at the time of the occurrence of crime, he possessed a lathi whereas the co accused were armed with country made pistols and therefore had no common intention with the other three accused. Further the credibility of the witnesses was questioned by the appellant as all the witnesses were the family members of the deceased.

The honorable Supreme Court asserted, “The injuries on the two deceased made it apparent that the assailants were more than one. The accused persons coming to the lands of the deceased and intimidating him to return the land, followed by assault upon him and those who came to his rescue and then immediately proceeding to the house of the second deceased established common intention.” The court further stated, “The failure to examine any available independent witness is inconsequential. It is the quality of the evidence and not the number of witnesses that is relevant. The contentions raised by the appellant in his defense that, one of the witnesses was not injured in the same occurrence and the other was not an eye witness to the second murder holds no ground.”

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