Conviction may act on the Testimony of Single Eye Witness Provided he is Wholly Reliable

The Supreme Court observed that the Conviction may act on the testimony of single eye witness provided he is wholly reliable. The Court set aside the conviction of murder accused made Allahabad High Court ruling that the conduct of the sole testimony of one eye witness, in this case, was unnatural and therefore highly unsafe without corroboration from other pieces of evidence.

Brief Facts of the Case
  • In the present case, three eye-witnesses were examined before the Trial Court. Two of them turned hostile.
  • The court convicted the accused on the sole testimony of an eyewitness.
  • The Allahabad High Court upheld the conviction.
Observation of SC

 While considering the appeal, the SC ruled that

As a general rule, the Court can and may act on the testimony of single eye witness provided he is wholly reliable. There is no legal impediment in convicting a person on the sole testimony of a single witness. That is the logic of Section 134 of the Evidence Act, 1872. But if there are doubts about the testimony Courts will insist on corroboration. It is not the number, the quantity but quality that is material. The time-honoured principle is that evidence has to be weighed and not counted. On this principle stands the edifice of 8 Section 134 of the Evidence Act. The test is whether the evidence has a ring of truth, is cogent, credible and trustworthy or otherwise.

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Considering the statement made by the eye witnesses, the Court observed that

It seems very unnatural that two brothers present on the spot will not even make slightest attempt to intervene and try to save the other brother being assaulted, merely on the threat extended by the assailants armed with hockey sticks and a knife. This unnatural conduct totally against natural human behaviour casts a serious doubt of shadow on the presence of eye witness on the spot at the time of occurrence. There was a medical clinic of Doctor Bhardwaj just nearby the place of incident and the first endeavour of the two brothers would have been to take injured brother to the clinic for immediate medical aid or try and get some medical aid from the clinic of Doctor Bhardwaj.

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The Court as well found fault with the prosecution not taking the opinion as to whether such injuries could have been caused by a knife with a broken tip by showing him the same. Considering this, the bench noted that the conduct of sole eye witness is unnatural and there are various other surrounding circumstances which make his presence at the site of incident doubtful. Hence, the Court set aside the concurrent conviction and ruled that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond doubt and they deserve to get the benefit of the doubt.

Case: AMAR SINGH vs. STATE (NCT OF DELHI)

Case no.: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 335 OF 2015]

Coram: Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari

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