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Minor Contradiction of the eye witnesses shall not benefit the accused: Supreme Court of India

Minor contradictions in the statement of eye witnesses in cases recorded after years of the crime shall not benefit the accused. This was decided in the case of Dhirendhra Singh v State of Jharkhand, [Criminal Appeal No. 580 of 2018] by Justice Shah in the Supreme Court of India.

The brief facts of the case is such that the appellant was accused for the offences punishable under Sections 302/307/34 IPC and Section 27 of the Arms Act. The accused fired from fire arm upon the deceased, which hit him and ultimately leading to death. The informant was also injured in the fight. The main accused passed away during the pendency of appeal in the High Court. The appellant and another one involved in the act were arrested after 13 years of the incident. They were aggrieved by the order passed by the lower court in convicting them to the offences under Section 302 and 34 of IPC. The appeal filed in the High Court by the accused was also dismissed. 

There were five eye witnesses to the case. There were material contradictions in the depositions of the three eye witnesses with respect to the role attributed to the appellant and the overt act by the appellant–accused. The appellants submitted that the eye witnesses were nit sufficient enough to prove his responsibility beyond reasonable doubt. It was also submitted by the appellants that the trial court and as well as High Court have erred in relying upon the evidence which is full of contradictions.

The counsel appearing for the state supported the judgment passed by the Trial Court and High Court submitted that as such the appellant absconded for 13 to 15 years after the date of the incident and the depositions and the evidence were recorded after 15 years and are bound to be some variations and/or contradictions. The conviction of the accused under Section 34 of IPC has established the presence and participation of the accused. The injuries sustained by one of the eye witness was also confirmed and established.  Thus, the presence of the appellant-accused at the time of incident and his active participation has been established and proved and the learned Trial Court as well as the High Court, have not committed any error in convicting the appellant-accused under Section 302 read with Section 34 IPC.

The Court observed that the accused has surrendered after the conclusion of the trial of another accused and after another accused was convicted The use of firearm by the appellant-accused has also been established and proved. Merely because the weapon is not seized cannot be a ground to acquit the accused when his presence and his active participation and using firearm by him has been established and proved. The Court did not interfered into the orders of the Trial Court and High Court and dismissed the petition.

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