February 26, 2019

Relative of the Victim being a related witness cannot be an interested witness: SC

Supreme Court Of India

Supreme Court elucidated the difference between ‘interested’ and ‘related’ witnesses. It stated that a witness may be called interested only when he or she derives some benefit from the result of a litigation, which in the context of a criminal case would mean that the witness has a direct or indirect interest in seeing the accused punished due to prior enmity or other reasons and thus motivated to falsely implicate the accused. This has been reiterated in a plethora of cases. In case of a related witness, the Court may not treat his or her testimony as inherently tainted, but needs to ensure only that the evidence is inherently reliable, probable, cogent and consistent.

It justified the contention that as all the eye-witnesses in the case were close relatives of the deceased, it is by now well-settled that a related witness cannot be said to be an interested witness merely by virtue of being a relative of the victim. In the instant matter, the Supreme Court found the testimony of the eye-witnesses to be consistent and reliable, and therefore rejected the contention of the appellants that the testimony of the eye-witnesses must be disbelieved because they are close relatives of the deceased and hence interested witnesses.

Other judgments where a similar stance was taken and which was also referred in the instant matter are case of Md. Rojali Ali v. State of Assam (Justices L Nageshwara Rao and Mohan M Shantanagoudar) and Laltu Ghosh v. State of West Bengal (Justices Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Dinesh Maheshwari). In both these murder cases the relatives were eyewitnesses who were related to the deceased.

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