In the case of Raveen Kumar vs. State of Himachal Pradesh, the Apex court of the country directed the Courts to be overcautious before relying on evidence with which witnesses have not been confronted with despite there being an opportunity to do so in the past. This was observed in an appeal preferred by a man accused of possessing contraband and who was convicted to a two-year imprisonment under Section 50 the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985.
The Supreme Court upheld a Himachal Pradesh High Court verdict while noting that the witness has not been confronted with the evidence that was admitted in the court during the course of cross-examination. The Court observed that though there is no need to separately prove the court records emanating during the trial, however, no legal presumption should be extended to the veracity of the contents of such documents. If the admission is proved, then it is thereafter to be used against the party when given an opportunity to do so. The Apex court relied on the judgment passed in the case of Sita Ram Bhau Patil v. Ramchandra Nago Patil in which it was held that ‘admission is not a conclusive proof’.
The court observed that even if admission is proved in accordance with the provisions of the Evidence Act, it is sound that this admission is to be used against the witness during the cross-examination on oath so that he would be given an opportunity to tender his explanation and to provide clarifications regarding the dispute. The court also looked into the matter of lack of independent witnesses and highlighted the importance of independent witnesses in the instant case. Thus directing the courts to adopt a greater- degree of care while scrutinizing the testimonies of the police officers, which if found reliable can form the basis of a successful conviction. The Supreme Court among other observations added that the High court was ‘far too lenient’ in granting only two-years of imprisonment to the accused of possessing 1.23Kg of contraband.