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Ocular evidence is considered the best evidence unless there are reasons to doubt it: The Supreme Court of India

It is only in a case where there is a gross contradiction between medical evidence and oral evidence, and the medical evidence makes the ocular testimony improbable and rules out all possibility of ocular evidence being true, the ocular evidence may be disbelieved. The Aforesaid has been established by the SC in the case of Pruthiviraj Jayantibhai Vanol Vs. Dinesh Dayabhai Vala [ CrA 177 OF 2014] which was decided upon by a two-judge bench comprising Justices Navin Sinha and R. Subhash Reddy on 26 July 2021.

The facts of the case are as follows. In this case, the High Court had reversed the Trial Court order convicting the accused on the ground that the evidence of the eye­witnesses is inconsistent with the medical evidence, regarding the nature of injuries vis­à­vis the weapons of offence. The deceased was assaulted on 01.10.2003 at 2:30 am while he was returning on a motorcycle along with the witness who was the pillion rider. The respondents are said to have assaulted with iron pipe, steel rod and stick, causing three stab wounds and nine incised wounds. It was submitted by the counsel for appellants that there was no inconsistency between the ocular and medical evidence. The High Court erred in the appreciation of evidence by failing to take not that the iron rod had a sharp edge by which the injuries on the deceased were possible. It is only if the medical evidence was totally inconsistent with the ocular evidence, the former was to be given precedence. Reliance was placed on Solanki Chimanbhai Ukabhai vs. State of Gujarat, 1983 (2) SCC 174 and State of U.P. vs. Krishna Gopal and Another, 1988 (4) SCC 302 and Baleshwar Mahto vs. State of Bihar, 2017 (3) SCC 152. On the contrary, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the first three respondents, the fourth one absconding till date, relying on Ramesh Babulal Doshi vs. State of Gujarat,1996 (9) SCC 225, Dhanna vs. State of M.P. with Kanhiyalal and another vs. State of M.P., 1996(10) SCC 79, and Ghurey Lal vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2008(10) SCC 450, submitted that in an appeal against acquittal if two views are possible, the benefit of doubt should be given to the accused.

The Court perused the facts and arguments presented. The bench, referring to evidence on record, addressed the contention that identification was not possible in the night to give them the benefit of doubt. It was of the opinion that “The aforesaid discussion leads us to the conclusion that the acquittal by the High Court is based on misappreciation of the evidence and the overlooking of relevant evidence thereby arriving at a wrong conclusion. It is not a case where two views are possible or the credibility of the witnesses is in doubt. Neither is it a case of a solitary uncorroborated witness. The conclusion of the High Court is therefore held to be perverse and irrational. The acquittal is therefore held to be unsustainable and is set aside. In the nature of the assault, Section 304 Part II, IPC has no application. The conviction of respondent nos. 1 to 4 by the Trial Court is restored.”

The bench also directed the accused to surrender within two weeks to serve out the remaining period of their sentence.

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