Nirnimesh Kumar

Delhi High Court advises trial court judges to be more vigilant

‘It is a classic example of how people can manage to tell lie'

There were three eyewitnesses in the case and as many accused

NEW DELHI: Pulling up a trial judge for believing eyewitness accounts of a murder case without rigorous scrutiny and ignoring contradictions in what the investigating officer and the eyewitnesses deposed during the trial, the Delhi High Court has acquitted an accused in a murder case.

The Sarita Vihar Police in South Delhi had charged the accused, Amarpal, with beheading Radhe Shyam and throwing the body and head at different places in 2002. The police had registered the case following receipt of information about the crime over phone.

There were three eyewitnesses in the case and as many accused. The trial court acquitted two of the accused and awarded life sentence to Amarpal. Recalling disposal of appeals by it in the past few months in which accused persons were acquitted due to weaknesses in investigation and evidence collected, a Division Bench of the Court comprising Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Suresh Kait said: “It is unfortunate that we are repeatedly noting that the learned trial judges are gullibly accepting, as gospel truth, whatever is spoken of by those who claim to be eyewitnesses. The instant case is a classic example of how people can manage to tell lie, and unless a judge is vigilant, gross injustice may result.”

Commenting on the quality of investigation of the instant case, the Bench observed: “The testimony of the three witnesses implicating Amarpal, in the manner stated by them, is totally contrary to the testimony of the sub-inspector (who had investigated the case) and the contemporaneous documents. The recovery memos prepared by the police appear to be prepared at random and at the police station. None of them appear to be contemporaneously prepared.''

Advising the trial judges to be vigilant, the Bench said: “Before concluding we re-emphasise…..that in a criminal trial the best assurance of guarantee of justice to an accused, that his rights under Article 21 of the Constitution of India are protected, are the warm and living hands and the hawk's eye of a vigilant judge through whose hands or eyes no piece of evidence worthy of being noted escapes attention of. When either these hands become cold or the eyes cease to watch carefully, the life and liberty of the accused becomes a casualty. Unfortunately this has happened in the instant case and…. it is their duty to see with microscopic eyes, all evidence and then test the veracity of eyewitness account.''