The Delhi High Court has held that unless it is proved that a witness harbours some enmity against the accused or he wished to implicate him falsely, such witness would be treated as an independent witness. Interested witness, on the other hand, suggests that a witness ought to have had some animus against the accused or harboured hostility against him, the Court said.
The clarification forms part of a judgment passed by a Division Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Vinod Goel in an appeal against an order of conviction passed by the trial court, on the appellant, Shambhu Yadav under Section 6 of the POCSO Act and for the offence punishable under Section 377 IPC for the offence of aggravated penetrative sexual assault on a 4-year-old boy.The appellant was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life and a fine of Rs. 30,000 under Section 6 of the POCSO Act.
In the appeal before the High Court, the appellant argued that reliance cannot be placed on Arun Kumar’s testimony as he was an unreliable witness. It was submitted that since Kumar was related to the victim's mother, the prosecution had failed to produce any independent witness.It was alleged that Kumar had falsely testified because he had to return a sum of Rs. 15,000 to the appellant. He claimed that he was falsely implicated in the case by Kumar and the victim’s father to extort money.
It was further urged that the prosecution had failed to show the spot from where the appellant was apprehended and contradictory statements in this regard were made by Kumar and the mother.It stated,“It is no doubt a well settled rule of prudence that the evidence of a related or interested witness should be examined meticulously, but once the court is satisfied that his/her testimony is credible, then the said evidence can be relied upon even without corroboration. Further, unless it is proved that such a witness harbours some enmity against the accused or he wished to implicate him falsely, for all effects and purposes, he can be treated as an independent witness.”
Coming to the instant case, the Court observed that Kumar was a natural witness who was at home on the relevant date and time and was residing in the very same building where the appellant, the victim and his family were residing as tenants.The reply of the victim to the questions posed was brief and to the point.The Court further stated that apart from the ocular evidence, there was sufficient medical and scientific evidence brought on record by the prosecution to squarely indict the appellant.
It thus upheld that trial Court’s judgment and order of conviction. Given the nature of the crime and the tender age of the victim, the Court also directed that the compensation amount of Rs. 4 lakh awarded by the trial court to the victim under the Delhi Victims Compensation Scheme, 2015 be enhanced.