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Key Takeaways

  • The appellants were accused of assaulting and killing a local fish trader. During the investigation weapons were recovered from the appellant.
  • They were convicted by the trial court and the case was appealed. The appellants contended that the eye witness testimony of two witness was delayed, moreover there was nothing to justify their conviction in the Trial court.
  • The Supreme court noted that the appellants created fear in the witness which justifies the delay. Further mere delay is not enough to reject the testimonies.

Facts

  • The case against the appellants was that they were dangerous men who were terrorising the local fish traders. The appellants had given an undertaking stating they will not create trouble. But they came to a fish stall which they ransacked and looted. Proceedings under section 107 of CrPC were initiated against they accused by the police.
  • Thereafter, the appellants threatened the victims, and assaulted them with sharp weapons. One of the victims died as a result of this. Pursuant to the investigation the accused were arrested and a revolver, dagger, and a bhojali recovered from them.
  • Upon conducting the Post mortem of the victim, fragment of bullet was recovered from his body. The Ballistic report was obtained with regard to the fire arms and the bullet fragment. The investigation was concluded with the filing of charge sheet against the appellants.
  • During the trial 37 witnesses were examined by the prosecution. The appellants contended innocence and false implication. The accused were convicted. This was appealed to the high court which affirmed the view of the Trial Court.

Arguments of the parties

  • The appellant brought forth the fact that there was a delay in recording testimonies from two eye witnesses. There was no explanation for why such a delay occurred. Under Sections 161 and 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, this could be fatal to the case of the prosecution.
  • It was further submitted that besides the testimonies of said two witnesses, there was nothing on record that could justify the conviction of the appellants.
  • The state submitted that the appellants unleashed terror of such magnitude that the witnesses had fled away in fear and it was only after the arrest of the accused, they felt safe to come forward. It was further asserted that apart from the eye witness accounts, there was evidence in the form of recoveries which were conclusive in nature.

Supreme Court

  • The court acknowledged the delay in recording the statement but stated “mere factum of delay by itself cannot result in rejection of their testimonies.”
  • It was felt that the material on record established the fear created by the accused, and the witnesses feeling terrified to come forward was adequately explained. There was no evidence to show that the witnesses were going about their normal lives instead of coming forward.
  • Thus, the eye witness account was not discarded and the court was convinced that the testimonies were cogent, consistent and trustworthy. The submission of the appellants was rejected.
  • Affirming the view of the High Court and Trial court, the appeals are dismissed.

Questions

  • What was the argument against the delay given by the state?
  • What was the decision of the Supreme Court?
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