Naresh  @Nehru V State of Haryana

Facts of the case-The case dates back to April 22, 2016, when Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Ram Kishan, on patrolling duty at 75 feet road, received a telephonic tip that a gun shot had been fired at the young boy in the village of Maheshwari. Upon arrival at the scene, a statement was recorded from Mohit, that his cousin Ajay and Suraj had been chased by three individuals on a bullet motorcycle, with Ravi as the driver and Shoaib Khan as the pillon rider. 2 more motorcycle with 2 riders carrying batons were following the bullet.

According to Mohit’s Statement, the unknown person on the bullet motorcycle fired at Ajay with county-made revolver, striking him in the head. Ajay was rushed to the hospital, but succumbed to his injuries the next day. Mohit further claimed that Ravi, one of the accused, had threaten to kill Ajay and Suraj   during the dispute on the day of ‘ Dulhandi ‘ leading to the shooting incident .

Trial  and High Court Decision

Based on this statement, an FIR was registered , and the accused were apprehended. The charge was framed against six accused persons. In a judgment dated October 6, 2017 , the Session Judge convicted the accused persons under Section 148,149 and 302 of IPC and Section 25 of the Arms Act . The conviction was later affirmed by the High Court in 2020.

Supreme Court Decision

Supreme Court recently held that the evidence of an eye-witness should be of very  sterling quality and caliber and it should not only instill confidence in the court to accept the same but it should also be a version of such nature that can be accepted at its face value.

The Court relied on Rai Sandeep @ Deepu alias Deepu V State (NCT of Delhi ) 2012 held – “ The ‘ Sterling witness’ should be of very high quality and caliber whose version should, therefore, be unassailable. The court considering the version of such witness should be in a position to accept it for its face value without any hesitation.  What would be relevant is the truthfulness of the statement made by such a witness. It should be natural and consistent with the case of the prosecution of the accused.  The witness should be in position to accept it for its face value without any hesitation. What would be relevant is the truthfulness of the statement made by such a witness. It should be natural and consistence with the case of the prosecution of the accused. The witness should be in a position to withstand the cross-examination of any length and however strenuous it may be. It can even stated that it should be akin to the test applied in the case of circumstantial evidence where there should not be any missing link in the chain of circumstances to hold the accused guilty of the offense alleged against him . Only if the version of such a witness qualifies the above test as well as all other such similar test to applied, can it be held that such a witness can be called a “ sterling witness “ whose version can be accepted by the court without any corroboration and based on which the guilty can be punished. “

The Court clarified that these criteria for credible eyewitness testimony should have a correlation with all other supporting materials such as recoveries made, weapon used, the manner in which the offense was committed , scientific evidence, and expert opinions. In essence, a sterling witness’s account should be consistent with all other evidence in the case.

Written by Adv Rohit Yadav

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