“The evidence of eye-witnesses are the eyes and ears of justice”: Supreme Court
The apex court of India has reaffirmed that oral evidence gets primacy over medical evidence and medical evidence is “basically opinionative”.
The Supreme Court Bench of Justices R Banumathi and R Subhash Reddy held that minor contradictions between the accounts of eye-witnesses and that of the medical evidence would not shake a prosecution case.The appeal had filled against Madhya Pradesh High Court, in which appellant had convicted under Sections 341 and 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
“The inconsistencies pointed out in the evidence of eyewitnesses inter se and the alleged inconsistencies between the evidence of eye-witnesses and that of the medical evidence are minor contradictions and they do not shake the prosecution case.”
The appellant had changed for murder of victim, who belonged to SC community. The Victim was attacked with lathi and later fired with gun. The post-mortem report of the victim stated that the death was caused due to the gun-shot injury.
The forensic test report, stated that the barrel marks on the gun were not sufficient for decisive matching, and 14 eye witnesses were examine by prosecution. The accused persons were convicted by the Trial Court following which they approached the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The High Court turned down the appeal which led to the appeal in the Supreme Court.
Prosecution submitted that the conviction was based on the eye-witness accounts of two witnesses which found corroboration in the FSL report and the decision of the Court needed no interference.
The Supreme Court noted that the discrepancies spoken of by the appellants pertain to minor points such as the number of blows given to the victim and the distance between the assailants and the victim are minor contradictions and “may be due to normal errors of observation narrating the occurrence, which they have witnesses.”
“The power of observation differs from person to person witnessing an attack. While the prime event of attack and the weapon are observed by a person, other minute details of number of blows, the distance from which the fire was shot might go unnoticed. So long as the evidence of eyewitnesses is found credible and trustworthy, their evidence cannot be doubted on the ground of minor contradictions.”
The Supreme Court placed reliance upon the judgments in Ramanand Yadav v. Prabhu Nath Jha in which it was held that “alleged variance between medical evidence and ocular evidence is concerned, it is trite law that oral evidence has to get primacy and medical evidence is basically opinionative. It is only when the medical evidence specifically rules out the injury as is claimed to have been inflicted as per the oral testimony, then only in a given case the court has to draw adverse inference.”
The Court also refereed the case State of U.P. v. Krishna Gopal and another, wherein the Supreme Court had held “that eyewitnesses’ account would require a careful independent assessment and evaluation for their credibility which should not be adversely prejudged making any other evidence, including medical evidence, as the sole touchstone for the test of such credibility.”
“The evidence of eye-witnesses are the eyes and ears of justice”, the Court said.
Case Name: Balvir Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh