SC: Relationship with the deceased is not, by itself, a ground for affecting the credibility of a witness.

Date :11/07/2018

In the case, the Two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court including Justices R. Bhanumathi and Ranjan Gogoi have pondered on some basic aspects of Criminal Law especially the issue whether relationship can be a ground influencing the credibility of a witness?

In the instant case, the Appellant challenged the Bombay High Court's judgement, whereby the Court while turning down the judgment of the acquittal of the appellants, convicted them under Sections 147, 148, 302 read with 149 IPC and sentenced them to undergo life imprisonment. 
Aggrieved by the aforesaid order of High Court, the Appellants approached the Supreme Court condemning the High Court's order on the ground that PW2 (prosecution witness) was brother of deceased and consequently his testimony was doubtful . The Appellant likewise asserted that the names of PW3 and PW4 were not mentioned in the FIR.
The Supreme Court in appeal dismissed the Appellant’s contentions and made the following observations in the case:
  • That relationship is not a ground affecting the credibility of a witness. That it is unreasonable to contend that evidence given by related witness should be discarded only on the ground that such witness is related. (Mohabbat v. State of M.P., (2009) 13 SCC 630)
  • Oversight to give the names of attackers or the names of witnesses in the FIR isn't deadly to the prosecution case – With reference to Appellant's argument that evidence of PWs 3 and 4 is tried to be ambushed on the ground that their names were not said in the FIR and that they are interested witnesses, the Apex Court noticed that the FIR isn't a reference book which ought to contain every detail of the case. FIR isn't a reference book which is required to contain every every detail of the prosecution case. It might be adequate if the broad facts of the prosecution case about the event show up. Omossion with regards to the names of the attackers or the witnesses may not always be fatal to the prosecution case, if the FIR is lodged immediately.
  • That except if there indication of fabrication, the Court can't dismiss the prosecution case as given in the FIR only in view of oversight. Oversight to give the names of attackers or the names of observers in the FIR isn't deadly to the prosecution case.
  • It was additionally opined that everybody responds in his own extraordinary way. There is no set rule of common response. To dispose of the evidence of a witness on the ground that he didn't respond in a specific way is to acknowledge evidence in an entirely implausible and dull way. (Rana Partap v. State of Haryana, (1983) 3 SCC 327)
  • That while acknowledging evidence of witness, approach must be whether the confirmation of witness read all in all seems to have a ring of truth and steady with the prosecution case or to see if it is against the general tenor of the case. Their evidence can't be questioned only in light of the fact that they have a relation with opposite group. All that is required is that their evidence is to be investigated with care and caution.
Case name: Motiram Padu Joshi v. State of Maharashtra
Date of Judgment: July 10, 2018
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