Ravi V. State Rep. by
Inspector of Police  INSC 1510 (5 September 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 22 OF 2007 Ravi
...Appellant State Rep. by Inspector of Police ...Respondent (With Criminal
Appeal No.23 of 2007)
DR. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
in these appeals is to the judgment of a Division Bench of the Madras High
Court. Two persons have filed the appeal and the appellant Ravi was A-1 in
Criminal Appeal No. 22 of 2007, and Ravi, appellant in Criminal Appeal No. 23
of 2007 was A3. Ten persons had faced trial before the learned Principal
Sessions Judge, Kanyakumari. During the pendency of trial one of them i.e. A-10
died and the charge against him had abated. A-5 to A-9 were acquitted by the
trial Court and the remaining four were appellants before the High Court. A1 to
A4 were convicted for offence punishable under Section 302 of Indian Penal
Code, 1860 (in short the `IPC').
version in a nutshell are as follows:
There was previous
enmity between the elder brother of Albert Walter (hereinafter referred to as
the deceased) i.e. Robert Victor Singh (P.W.1) and Al and one Sasi, residing at
R.C. Street, Monday market. There was a case that, Al had hacked Sasiat his
leg. In the murder case related to one Kumar, deceased Albert Walter was
implicated as an accused.
On 24.12.1991, when
P.W.1 and deceased were going near Neyyoor Hospital, Al to A4 chased the
deceased. On 7.1.1992, when P.W.1, deceased and one Ranjith Singh were coming
towards the south from Neyyoor Mission Hospital, opposite to the Primary
School, at around 7 or 7.15 in the night, Al to A4 armed with choppers in their
hands chased deceased who ran from north towards the south. Near the house of
one Shahul Hameed, Al to A4 caught hold of deceased. A1 hacked him at his neck,
jaw and right cheek. A-2 hacked deceased at his right hand and back. A3 hacked
him on his head 3 times with a chopper. A4 hacked him on his abdomen.
Consequent to the injuries inflicted by Al to A4, he died at the very place of
occurrence. The occurrence was witnessed by P.W.1, Ranjith Guna Singh (PW 2)
and Jagdeesh Chandran (PW3) in the light shed by the electric light near the
place of occurrence. P.W.1, at around 8.30 in the night, went to the Police
Station, Eraniel and lodged a written complaint Ex.P.1 signed by him regarding
the occurrence. At the time of occurrence Albert Walter was wearing a shirt
M.0.1 and a lungi M.0.2.
On 7.1.1992, at
around 8.30 in the night, when the Sub- Inspector P.W.13 was on duty in charge
of the station, as per the complaint Ex.P-1 given by P.W.1, a case was
registered in Crime No.10/92 u/s 302 IPC. The First Information Report and the
complaint statement were sent to the Court. The 3 copies of these were sent to
the higher officials. When P.W.17 was in-charge as the Circle Inspector,
Eraniel on 7.1.1992, at 2100 hrs., he received the FIR in this case and took up
the case for investigation. He visited the place of occurrence at 21.15 hrs and
observing it in the presence of the witnesses prepared the observation mahazar
Ex.P.2. Shelvasdas (P.W.6) was present along with him and attested as a witness
to Ex. P.2. P.W.17 prepared the Rough sketch Ex-P.20. He made arrangements for
photographing the place of occurrence. He conducted inquest in the presence of
the Panchayatdars. The Inquest Report prepared by him is Ex.P.21. During the
inquest, P.W.17 enquired the witnesses. He entrusted the corpse to Selvamani
(P.W.12) Constable with the requisition of conducting post-mortem, Ex.P.14 to
the Medical Officer, Colachel. From the place of occurrence, the Inspector P.W.17
seized M.O.3 blood-stained earth, M.O.4 sample earth and prepared the mahazar
Ex-P.3 in the presence of P.W.6 who attested it as a witness.
4 As per the
requisition of the Police Department, P.W.14 took photographs of the place of
occurrence. The photos taken by him are M.0.6 series and their negatives M.O.7
series. As per the orders of the Inspector, on 8.1.1992, P.W.12 took the corpse
of Albert Walter under his responsibility, then after the inquest was over, he
took the corpse to the doctor and entrusted the same for post-mortem
examination. After the post-mortem was over, he received the corpse back and
handed over the same to its relatives.
On 8.1.1992 as per
the requisition of the Inspector PW- 17 through PW-12, the Doctor (PW-10)
conducted the post mortem examination of the corpse at 12 noon. He noticed
rigor mortis spread over the corpse and found the following injuries on the
1. An incised injury
measuring 10 x 5 x 4 cm on the right cheek extending from the mouth upto the
backside of the head.
2. An incised injury
measuring 4 x 3 x 3 cms noticed on the lower jaw.
3. An incised injury
measuring 10 x 5 x 5 cm at the lower jaw beneath the first injury.
4. An incised injury
measuring 10 x 10 x 5 cms on the left side of the neck extending upto the back
side of the back. Its edges, muscles, blood-vessels, throat, wind-pipe had all
been cut. The neck was found hanging.
5. An incised injury
on the right ear. The ear was found cut into two.
6. An injury
measuring 3 x 2 x 1 cm seen on the right side of the back and below the
shoulders. The right humerus bone was fractured.
7. An abrasion
measuring 2 x 1 cm on the right shoulder.
8. An incised injury
measuring 8 x 4 x 2 cm on the right upper arm.
9. An incised injury
measuring 5 x 3 x 2 cm on the pelvic region.
11. An incised injury
measuring 15 x 3 x 2 cm in the middle part of the head, the bone was cut into
12. An incised injury
measuring 7 x 3 x 2 cm on the right side of the parietal region of the head;
the bone was seen cut.
13. An incised injury
measuring 15 x 5 x 2 cm upto the left cheek of the temporal region and
extending on the head.
P.W.10 doctor issued
the Post-mortem report (Ex.P.15).
The opinion given by
the doctor was that the injuries 1 to 13 could be inflicted by choppers; that,
injuries 1 to 4 are grievous injuries; that, death would have occurred between
17 hrs to 20 hrs. prior to the post-mortem examination and that, death could have
occurred because of the injuries sustained and haemorrhage.
7 Since it became
evident on investigation that offence had been committed u/s 120(B) IPC, he has
incorporated section 120(B) IPC in the case and sent the report to the court of
the Judicial Magistrate. On 14.1.1992 P.W.17 arrested Al to A4 below the
Villukkuvi over bridge. At that time, he recorded the confessional statement
given by Al, in the presence of the witnesses. The admissible portion of the
confessional statement is Ex.P-22. On the basis of the confessional statement,
Al took P.W.17 and other witnesses to the southern bund of Pandara tank and
from a hole there, took out a sickle and from the tank 3 sickles and presented
These are Ex. P.8
series. P.W.17 seized them under Ex.P.23 Mahazar in the presence of the
witnesses. At the Eranial Junction, P.W.17 seized the Car No. T. N. 72 - 0156,
M.0.9 as identified by Al in the presence of witnesses under Ex.P. 24 mahazar
prepared by him. At Monday market, auto stand, he seized the auto No.
T.N.74-4461 (M.0.5) and prepared the mahazar Ex.P.25. At Kanyakumari Taxi
Stand, he seized the Car in No. T. N. 69 Z 0255, as pointed out by Al, from one
8 Selvam under Ex.P.26 mahazar. Then, he brought the accused and the material
objects to the Police Station and thereafter sent them to judicial custody. On
15.1.1992 at around 6'o clock in morning he arrested the accused A8 and A9 at
Eraniel, brought them to the Police Station and then sent them to judicial
custody. He showed the sickles seized on 16.1.1992 to the Medical Officer and
made enquiries from him. On 17.1.1992 he seized the registers from Hotel Sri
Ram on Tuticorin - Ettayapuram road. He sent a requisition to the Judicial
Magistrate to record the statements of the witnesses Kaba, Selvam and Ayyappan
under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in short the
`Code'). He sent a requisition Ex.P.27 to the Court, to send the case
properties for chemical examination. The objects were sent for chemical
examination along with the letter of the Judicial Magistrate.
The copy of the
Judicial Magistrate's letter is Ex. P.28. After the chemical examination, the
Chemical Examination Report Ex-P.29 and the Serology Report Ex.P.30 were
9 When P.W.16 was
working as Judicial Magistrate, Padmanabhapuram, as per the requisition of the
Inspector, he recorded the statements of the witnesses Kaba, Selvam and
Ayyappan on 27.1.1992 under Section 164 of Code.
Ex.P.17 is the
statement of Ayyappan; Ex.P.18, is the statement of Selvam and Ex.P.19 is the
statement of Kaba.
undertaken and on completion thereof, a charge sheet was filed. Accused persons
pleaded innocence and false implication. During trial some of the witnesses
resiled from their statements made during investigation.
According to the
trial Court, the evidence of PW-1 was sufficient to fasten the guilt on the
accused. The stand that on the basis of solitary witness's evidence the
prosecution version should not be accepted, did not find favour with the trial
Court who directed conviction for offence punishable under Section 302 IPC.
the High Court the stand about the sustainability of the evidence of PW-1 was
re-iterated. It was highlighted that he was brother of the deceased and
therefore was interested and a partisan witness. The High Court did not accept
that plea and found the evidence of PW-1 to be clear and cogent and dismissed
support of the appeals, learned counsel for appellants submitted that
conviction should not be recorded on the basis of a single witness's evidence.
It is pointed out that there was no question of having sufficient light at the
place of occurrence at about 7.15 p.m. and PW-1 could not have identified the
counsel for the State on the other hand supported the judgments of the trial
Court and the High Court.
far as the identification aspect is concerned PW-1 has categorically stated
that there was light in the nearby church and the street lights near Primary
School were burning at the time of occurrence and he could see the occurrence
in that light. The trial Court and the High Court referred to the presence of
street lights in Ext.P-20, the rough sketch.
Therefore the plea of
identification being not possible has no substance. Further the accused persons
were known to the witness. That is also a relevant factor.
law relating to the approach of the courts when prosecution version essentially
rests on the testimony of a single witness has been highlighted by this Court
in many cases.
a consideration of the relevant authorities and the provisions of the Indian
Evidence Act, 1872 (in short the `Evidence Act') the following propositions may
be safely stated as firmly established:
(1) As a general
rule, a court can and may act on the testimony of a single witness though
uncorroborated. One credible witness outweighs the testimony of a number of
other witnesses of indifferent character.
corroboration is insisted upon by statute, courts should not insist on
corroboration except in cases where the nature of the testimony of the single
witness itself requires as a rule of prudence, that corroboration should be
insisted upon, for example in the case of a child witness, or of a witness
whose evidence is that of an accomplice or of an analogous character.
corroboration of the testimony of a single witness is or is not necessary, must
depend upon facts and circumstances of each case and no general rule can be
laid down in a matter like this and much depends upon the judicial discretion
of the Judge before whom the case comes.
there is no hesitation in holding that the contention that in a murder case the
court should insist upon plurality of witnesses, is much too broadly stated.
above position was highlighted in Vadivelu Thevar v. The State of Madras (1957
position has been re-iterated in large number of cases. Reference may be made
to Joseph v. State of Kerala (2003 (1) SCC 465), Yakub Ismailbhai Patel v.
State of Gujarat (2004 (12) SCC 229) , Bhimapa Chandappa Hosamani and Ors. v.
State of Karnataka (2006 (11) SCC 323) and to Kunju Balachandran v. State of
Tamil Nadu [2008(2)SCC 151].
last named case, it was held as follows:
noted by the trial court and the High Court even though PW 1 did not support
the prosecution version in toto, yet his evidence lent corroboration to the
evidence of PW 2 that the deceased, PW 2 and another had gone to take bath and
at that time the accused came there.
The evidence of PW 2
has not been shaken although he was cross-examined at length.
It is necessary to
refer to the pivotal argument of the appellant's learned counsel that PW 2 is
the sole eyewitness in the present case and no conviction should be based on
the testimony of such an eyewitness who cannot be described as wholly reliable.
In Vadivelu Thevar v.
The State of Madras (1957 SCR 981) this Court had gone into this controversy
and divided the nature of witnesses in three categories, namely, wholly
reliable, wholly unreliable and lastly, neither wholly reliable nor wholly
unreliable. In the case of the first two categories this Court said that they
pose little difficulty but in the case of the third category of witnesses,
corroboration would be required. The relevant portion is quoted as under: (AIR
p. 619, paras 11-12) `11. ... Hence, in our opinion, it is a sound and
well-established rule of law that the court is concerned with the quality and
not with the quantity of the evidence necessary for proving or disproving a
fact. Generally speaking, oral testimony in this context may be classified into
three categories, namely:
(1) Wholly reliable.
(3) Neither wholly
reliable nor wholly unreliable.
12. In the first
category of proof, the court should have no difficulty in coming to its
conclusion either way -- it may convict or may acquit on the testimony of a
single witness, if it is found to be above reproach or suspicion of
interestedness, incompetence or subornation.
In the second
category, the court equally has no difficulty in coming to its conclusion. It
is in the third category of cases, that the court has to be circumspect and has
to look for corroboration in material particulars by reliable testimony, direct
or circumstantial. There is another danger in insisting on plurality of
witnesses. Irrespective of the quality of the oral evidence of a single
witness, if courts were to insist on plurality of witnesses in proof of any
fact, they will be indirectly encouraging subornation of witnesses.' 15
Vadivelu Thevar case (supra) was referred to with approval in Jagdish Prasad v.
State of M.P (AIR 1994 SC 1251). This Court held that as a general rule the
court can and may act on the testimony of a single witness provided he is
wholly reliable. There is no legal impediment in convicting a person on the
sole testimony of a single witness. That is the logic of Section 134 of the
Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (in short `the Evidence Act'). But, if there are
doubts about the testimony the courts will insist on corroboration. It is for
the court to act upon the testimony of witnesses. It is not the number, the
quantity, but the quality that is material. The time- honoured principle is
that evidence has to be weighed and not counted. On this principle stands the
edifice of Section 134 of the Evidence Act. The test is whether the evidence
has a ring of truth, is cogent, credible and trustworthy, or otherwise."
in the instant case, the recovery under Section 27 of the Evidence Act, 1872 is
there. M.O.8 series, four Vettu Kathis were recovered by the Investigating
Officer on the basis of confessional statement of A-1 vide Exh.P4.
at from any angle the judgment of the High Court does not suffer from any
infirmity to warrant interference. The appeals are dismissed.
(Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)
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