Madras HC: Plurality of witnesses is no ground for the proof of any fact


An appeal was filed before the Madras High Court to set aside the district court’s judgement and acquit him of his crimes. This case is significant because it upholds the precedent laid down by the court in Vadivelu Thevar vs the State of Madras and it was in this case that Section 134 of the Evidence Act was interpreted and upheld.

Facts Of The Case

The appellant had been accused of the murder of the deceased, in conspiracy with another person who had died in the proceedings of the trial under the district court. Upon hearing about the death of the deceased, his father filed an FIR before the district’s police station. The trial court had examined 17 witnesses, marked 22 documents and 13 material objects on the behalf of the prosecution but no witnesses or documents were examined on the side of the appellant, which also formed the basis for the prosecution’s arguments.

A deaf and blind person was said to have witnessed the crime and was examined by the police at a District school with the help of a sign language interpreter. The deceased was said to have been attacked by two persons with a sharp object causing various cut wounds and injuries which resulted in his death.

The district court had examined the case and ruled against the appellant convicting him of the punishment of life imprisonment and the same was challenged before the high court.

Arguments Of The Counsel

The counsel appearing on behalf of the appellant contended that there was no mention of the appellant in the FIR that was filed, no mention in the report received through the police after sign language interpretation, which was also inadmissible because it was not taken according to the provisions of the Evidence Act and not in the manner known to law and that the appellant had been thus, wrongly accused of the crime that was in fact, committed by another. The counsel contended that the evidence was not corroborated correctly as it was not proved through the oral and documentary evidence presented before the court that it was the appellant who had committed the crime.

The prosecution however contended that there were no witnesses examined on behalf of the appellant, that they had rightly proved the guilt of the accused according to the pieces of evidence in the post mortem report, the injuries inflicted by the appellant and the accused who was then dead, and the report given by the witnesses of the crime.

Judgement Of The Court

The court after examining the judgement of the trial court and the contentions of the counsel held that there was no corroboration of evidence on the part of the prosecution and that the reports of witnesses examined that were heavily relied on by the trial court were, in fact, contradictory and far from satisfactory, according to the court.

Upon seeing the crime happen, the witness did not report the crime to the parents of the deceased and for unknown reasons, had waited hours to do so. Moreover, his report seemed to contradict with the report received from the deaf and dumb witness who nowhere mentioned the name of the appellant.

The High Court cited the judgement of Vadivelu Thevar vs the State of Madras and interpreted the judgement as well as section 134 of the Evidence Act. It was interpreted that no particular number of witnesses or any plurality of witnesses were essential for the proof of any fact in a murder case. It was held that if the intention of the legislature were so while enacting the Act, the cases where the testimony of only a single witness was available, would go unpunished.

It also held that since the case of the prosecution was unsatisfactory and the evidence unreliable, the benefit of the doubt should be extended to the appellant. The court thus rejected the contentions of the prosecution and ruled the case in favour of the appellant.

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