Un-shattered testimony of official witnesses can be relied upon solely in order to prove guilt of the accused: Himachal Pradesh HC

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of Sanjay Karol, Chander Bhusan Barowalia, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the order of conviction passed by the trial court, whereby accused was convicted under Section 20 of the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

The main issue that arose before the Court was whether the trial court was justified in holding that the prosecution had successfully proved the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.

The Court observed that if the statement of official witnesses are confidence inspiring, conviction of the accused can be based upon their un-shattered testimony. There were several discrepancies in the statements of the IO and other official witnesses such as- independent witnesses were available on the spot but they were not called, one official was not sure whether the option of being searched before a police officer was given to the accused or not whereas the IO stated that he had given options to the accused of being searched before a magistrate but he volunteered to get searched before the police. Hence, it can be reasonably concluded that there were several discrepancies in the statements of the official witnesses and those statements were not backed by any other evidence.

The Court held that after analyzing the statements of the officials vis-à-vis the evidence produced, it can be said that the prosecution had failed to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The statement of police witnesses were not confidence inspiring and were found to be full of contradictions, at the same point of time, independent witnesses, which were abundantly available were not associated and seal was not produced in the Court. Resultantly, the appeal was allowed and the order of conviction passed by the trial court was set aside.[Neer v. State of H.P.,2018 SCC OnLine HP 1572, order dated 05-11-2018]

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