When two versions of the facts are present, the one favoring the accused must be considered by the court. The witness of a solitary witness even if it is an interested witness is suffcient to convict the accused.

In the context of this case, the learned senior counsel cited Marudanal Augusti Vs. State of Kerala (1980) 4 SCC 425 and Chotkau Vs. State of U.P. (2022) SCC OnLine 1313 to establish a delay in the FIR reaching the Magistrate. Various principles in deciding cases were discussed, such as the reliability of evidence from a hostile witness, the effect of omissions and deficiencies, reliance on a single witness, and the testimony of a close relative. The delay in sending an FIR and the last seen theory were also discussed. When several accused persons are involved, Section 149 of the Indian Penal Code applies.

“The primary submission led was that reliance on a solitary witness to convict as many as eight people (now six, with proceedings against two having abated on their death) is excessive. On a specific query by the Court as to what the learned counsel can point to, to impeach the veracity of PW-1’s testimony the answer was to say that looking at a number of external factors as also the testimonies of other witnesses, the elements to demolish the credibility are present – which to our mind does not merit interference. For the heightened scrutiny requirement, as observed by this Court in Jagdish Vs. State of Haryana [(2019) 7 SCC 711] to be held as unsatisfied, the surrounding evidence would have to be called into credible question, which it was not.Accused, if on bail, are directed to immediately surrender before the Court.”

decided by the Supreme Court of India on 16.03.23

By aor.sanjivnarang@gmail.com

Sanjiv Narang Adv. is an Advocate on Record in the Supreme Court of India. His qualifications include an LLB from University of Delhi and a Masters degree in Personnel Management from Panjab University,Chandigarh.In his more than 3 decades of experience, he has practiced law at the District, High Court and Supreme Court levels.He also has more than a decade of experience in the field of Management. He is the author of two books namely Laws for Women in India and Innovation, Why What and How.