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Statements of police witnesses cannot be doubted merely because they are official witnesses: Jammu and Kashmir High Court

The statements of the police or Excise witnesses cannot be regarded as doubtful merely because they are the official witnesses. Something more than that needs to be projected by the defence to create doubt in the statement of these witnesses. This auspicious judgment was passed by the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir in the Matter of Jaspal Singh and another vs the state of Jammu and Kashmir [CRA no.14/2013] by Honourable Justice Tashi Rabstan and Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul.

 

The facts of the present case are the appellants herein assail their conviction granted by learned Sessions Judge for an offence committed under Section 8 read with Section 15(C) of the Narcotics Drugs & Psychotropic Substance for recovery of 720 Kg of Bukhi from their custody. The appellants had to face stringent incarceration for 20 days and to pay a fine of Rs. One lac for the commission of an offence under section 8 r/w Section 15(C) NDPS Act.

 

The learned counsel for appellants has argued that since there is no physical evidence in the shape of alleged recovered contraband, the same had not been shown to the witnesses in the Court for identification. He also argues that it is not clear where the alleged samples had been kept for ten days before handing over the same to FSL for chemical analysis.

 

According to the court prosecution failed to prove that appellants are repeat offenders, this suggests that they are first-timers and there are no records that show that accused persons/appellant had previously committed such offences.

 

The court relied on the supreme court case Jarnail Singh v. the State of Punjab, wherein it stated that “The evidence of official witnesses cannot be distrusted and disbelieved, merely on account of their official status…Even otherwise also it has been noticed that people generally resist and refrain themselves to be kept as a witness in criminal cases for the reasons best known to them.”

 

While partly allowing the petition, the court relied on the case of the Government of NCT of Delhi v Sunil and Anr, wherein it was held that “it is an archaic notion that actions of the police officer should be approached with initial distrust. It is time now to start placing at least initial trust on the actions and the documents made by the police. At any rate, the Courts cannot start with the presumption that the police records are untrustworthy. As a presumption of law, the presumption would be the other way round. The official acts of the police have been regularly performed is the wise principle of presumption and recognized even by the legislature.

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