'Statements of witnesses can’t be relied upon to render conviction'

The appellant sought a direction to set aside the order passed by the additional district and sessions judge Vellore on September 11, 2018.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court held that the trial courts need not rely only upon the statements of the witnesses to render convictions citing it is against the Sections of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

A division bench of Madras High Court Comprising Justice S Vaidyanathan and Justice AD Jagadish Chandira made this ruling on allowing a criminal appeal filed by a life-term convict named Siva on charges of murdering a woman in Vellore district in 2017.

The appellant sought a direction to set aside the order passed by the additional district and sessions judge Vellore on September 11, 2018.

The appellant’s counsel submitted that three of the witnesses had turned hostile and five others’ also emerged as hostile witnesses. “Without proper material evidence and witnesses’ statements, the trial court had passed the conviction. The conviction was merely on the ground that the witness gave a statement before the magistrate after 16 days of the crime incident, ” the appellant noted.

Recording the submissions, the judges held that the prosecution failed to make a prima facie case in this case. Citing a three-judge bench of the SC in Sheo Raj Vs State, the judges held that the principles laid down by the SC that it is clear that presumption under Section 80 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 cannot be drawn to rely upon the statements of witnesses recorded under Section 164 CrPC during the investigation to render a conviction.

The judges further set aside the trial court order and the appellant was set at liberty.

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