New Delhi: The testimony of an eyewitness, who is either an “interested” witness or “inimical” to the accused, cannot be relied if he lies on key issues like injuries received by offenders, the Supreme Court has held. “The eyewitnesses who deny the presence of injuries on the person of the accused are lying on most material point, and therefore, their evidence is unreliable,” a bench of justices J S Kehar and C Nagappan said.
“It assumes much greater importance where the evidence consists of interested or inimical witnesses,” it said. The bench, while acquitting four persons in a 24-year-old murder case, said that an eyewitness' account cannot be believed if he lied on key aspects of the case.
It also referred to an earlier apex court verdict that had said, “Non-explanation of the injuries sustained by the accused at about the time of occurrence or in the course of altercation is a very important circumstance.” Dealing with facts of the case, it said that three eyewitnesses were “inimical” to the accused and they have also denied “the injuries on the person of accused” and hence, their evidence were “unreliable”.
Earlier, Sudarshan Verma, Jagdish, Deep Narain, Rajendra and Ganesh Datt were awarded life imprisonment by a Nainital court for killing Prabhunath on August 26, 1989. They had allegedly attempted to kill other family members of the deceased.
“We are of the considered view that the prosecution has failed to prove the guilt of the appellants beyond reasonable doubt, and therefore, they are entitled to be acquitted,” the apex court said.
The proceedings against an accused Jagdish stood abated as he died during the hearing.