[NDPS] Lack Of Independent Witness Not Fatal ; Police Officer’s Testimony Shall Be Scrutinized With Greater Care: Supreme Court [Read Judgment]

first_imgTop Stories[NDPS] Lack Of Independent Witness Not Fatal ; Police Officer’s Testimony Shall Be Scrutinized With Greater Care: Supreme Court [Read Judgment] LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK27 Oct 2020 3:43 AMShare This – xThe Supreme Court has reiterated that, in NDPS cases, lack of independent witnesses are not fatal to the prosecution cases.The bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy observed that, in such cases, the Courts have to adopt a greater degree of care while scrutinising the testimonies of the police officers. If they are found reliable, they can form the basis of…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginThe Supreme Court has reiterated that, in NDPS cases, lack of independent witnesses are not fatal to the prosecution cases.The bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy observed that, in such cases, the Courts have to adopt a greater degree of care while scrutinising the testimonies of the police officers. If they are found reliable, they can form the basis of a successful conviction, the bench observed.In this case, the Trial Court while acquitting the accused, held that no independent witness supported the prosecution case and that the testimonies of the star police witnesses were contradictory. In this case, one independent witness had turned hostile. The High Court, while reversing the acquittal, had noted that the contradictions are trivial and that the hostile witness’ testimony supported the prosecution case. Agreeing with the findings of the High Court, the bench observed.”It would be gainsaid that lack of independent witnesses are not fatal to the prosecution case. However, such omissions cast an added duty on Courts to adopt a greater degree of care while scrutinising the testimonies of the police officers, which if found reliable can form the basis of a successful conviction.” The accused also contended that the contents of the reply filed by prosecution to his bail plea proved that the case was not of chance recovery. In this regard, the bench observed that there is a distinction between ‘replies’ submitted to the Court in some pending proceedings, as compared to the statements recorded by the police under Section 161 of CrPC. It said:Nevertheless, a Court should be overcautious to place reliance on a piece of evidence with which the concerned witness has not been confronted despite an opportunity to do so. Although there is no need to separately prove the court records emanating during trial but no legal presumption can be extended to the veracity of the contents of such documents. The reply filed in court proceedings, at best, can be treated as an admission; which as held by this Court in Sita Ram Bhau Patil v. Ramchandra Nago Patil5 , must not only be proved, but also the opposite party must be confronted with it at the stage of cross examination. Though it did not interfere in the sentence imposed, the bench noted a recent judgment in Hira Singh v. Union of India which held that the total quantity of the mixture, which includes the neutral substance, ought to be relevant for purposes of sentencing. “This total quantity in the instant case is 1 kg 230 gms, which exceeds the definition of ‘commercial quantity’ as specified at Sl. No. 23 in Notification S.O. 1055 (E), dated 19.10.2001. Thus, the sentence accorded by the High Court is clearly already far too charitable.”, the court added.Case: Raveen Kumar vs. State of Himachal Pradesh [ CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 2187­88 of 2011]Coram: Justices NV Ramana, Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy Click here to Read/Download JudgmentRead JudgmentNext Storylast_img read more