India law

Courts  should  not   go by the background of witness alone: SC

By Our  Legal Correspondent

New  Delhi, Oct  29  (IVC)    The  supreme court  has  released a man   sentenced  to life  imprisonment  in a  murder  case after  learning  that the  entire case against him  was  based on the  blind  trust  in the spotless reputation of  the  star  witness as a “literate  and god-fearing” person.

                “A  court  of law cannot declare  the  reputation of  a  person based   upon  its  own opinion merely because a  person is educated and  said  to  be God-fearing , that  by itself  will  not  create a  positive reputation”  the  Supreme  Court  said  in its  recent order.

                The  case  was  based on the  death of  a  woman 20  years  ago in Himachal Pradesh.  The  prime witness  her  neighbor .  He  heard her  cries  for  help and claimed  to  have seen two men. Later  the police found  the  body of  the  woman in her  house.

                But  a  Bench  of justices M M Sundresh  and J B Pardiwala found  the  conduct   of  the witness strange  in  several  instances.

                Justice Sundresh noted that  the  man did  not enter  the  house  of  his neighbor to  check on her  after the  accused  had  left.  Instead,  he  saw the  school-going  children  of  the  woman and “advised”  them to  tell their  mother  to  call the   police.                

The  top  court noted that the  trial  court had acquitted the  accused  of  the  crime.  However, the  Himachal  Pradesh  High  Court had  set aside  the  trial  court  judgment ,  blindly  believing the  evidence  of  the  witness.  “Courts  are  not  expected to  get  carried away  by the  mere  background of  a  person..  when his  conduct, being  a  relevant fact, creates serious doubt”, Justice Sundresh observed.

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