26 Jul 2121

Ocular evidence is considered the best evidence unless there are reasons to do doubt it - Supreme Court of India

Case : Pruthiviraj Jayantibhai Vanol V. Dinesh Dayabhai Vala & Ors Criminal Appeal No. 177 of 2014

Court : Supreme Court of India

Bench : Justice Navin Sinha and Justice R. Subhash Reddy

Decided on : 26 Jul 2121

Relevant Statutes

Section 302, 304, 34 , 120B of Indian Penal Code,1860

Section 135(1) of Bombay Police Act, 1951

Brief Facts and Procedural History

1. The deceased was assaulted on 01.10.2003 at 2:30 am while he was returning on a motorcycle along with the witness who was the pillion rider. The respondents-accused assaulted the deceased with iron pipe, steel rod and stick.

2. The deceased was brought to the hospital emergency ward by the witness at 2:45 am, with serious injuries and the deceased expired at 8:00 am, as deposed by the Doctor.

3. The postmortem report, as deposed by the Doctor revealed three stab wounds and nine incised injuries.

4. The witness lodged a police complaint at 5:15 am the same day naming the four accused.

5. Based on the evidence on record, the High Court of Bombay acquitted the four accused thereby reversing the conviction of the respondents under Section 302, 34, 120B of Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Section 135(1) of Bombay Police Act,1951 held by the trial court.

The Issue of the Case

Whether the medical evidence makes the ocular evidence improbably in case of variation between the two?

The Observations of the Court

1. The Honourable Supreme Court observed that there is no substance in the submissions made by the respondents that the occurrence has taken on a dark night with no street lights and thus respondents identification is not possible.

The Honourable Supreme Court observed that there is evidence about the availability of light near the place of occurrence and even otherwise, the availability of light is not relevant since the parties were known to each other from earlier. Identification at night between known persons is acknowledged to be possible by voice, silhouette, shadow, and gait also. Therefore the benefit of the doubt cannot be given to the respondents. To support the observation the Honourable Supreme Court referred to the case Nathuni Yadav vs State of Bihar, (1998) 9 SCC 238.

2. The Honourable Supreme Court observed that the submission by the respondents with regard to the variation in the medical evidence and ocular evidence (those given by witnesses) and that benefit of the doubt be given to the respondents does not hold any ground. Ocular evidence is considered the best evidence unless there are reasons to doubt it.

The evidence of the first witness (pillion rider with the deceased) and the second witness (security guard) is unimpeachable. It is only in a case where there is a gross contradiction between medical evidence and oral evidence, and the medical evidence makes the ocular testimony improbable and rules out all possibility of ocular evidence being true.

The Decision Held by the Court

The Honourable Supreme Court held that the High Court of Bombay has erred in appreciation of evidence, overlooked relevant evidence and arrived at a wrong conclusion thus, the acquittal is held to be unsustainable and set aside and the conviction of the respondents is restored.

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