It is also well settled legal position that the quality and not the quantity of witnesses which is material and conviction can be based even on a single testimony if it is found to be trustworthy.

In Shishu Pal v. State of U. P.

Section 383 of the Criminal Procedure Code:

Procedure when appellant in jail: If the appellant is in jail, he may present his petition of appeal and the copies accompanying the same to the officer in charge of the jail, who shall thereupon forward such petition and copies to the proper Appellate Court.

Judgment delivered by Hon. Vivek Varma, J

Judgment Brief:

Jail Appeal was filed under Section 383 Cr.P.C. through Superintendent of Jail, Bareilly by accused/appellant, Shishu Pal, against the judgment and order dated 30.11.2013 passed by Sri Mridulesh Kumar Singh, Additional Sessions Judge, Bareilly, convicting accused/­appellant under Section 302 I.P.C. and sentencing him to undergo life imprisonment with a fine of Rs. 20,000/­ and, in default of payment of fine, he has to undergo further additional simple imprisonment of six months.

Prosecution story, in brief, is that informant Runka Devi wife of deceased­ Netram moved written report alleging therein that real nephew of deceased, namely, Shishupal (accused/­appellant) was having a bad intention on her land and, on that pretext, on 11.10.2010 at about 9 a.m., when husband of Informant was lying outside at the back portion of his house, Shishupal armed with a piece of brick gave multiple blows on his head as a result of which, he sustained serious injuries. The informant is said to have reached the spot and with the help of villagers, took her husband to District Hospital but on the way to the hospital, he died. She further
stated that after postmortem examination, she has come to the police station.

After hearing learned counsel for the parties and going through the entire evidence available on record, Trial Court found that ocular evidence of material witnesses coupled with medical evidence proves the guilt of the appellant beyond a reasonable doubt; and there is no contradiction in the statements of witnesses to disbelieve their testimony. Therefore, the Trial Court convicted and sentenced the appellant, as said above.

 

Learned Amicus Curiae appearing for appellant challenged the conviction of accused/appellant by submitting (along with other arguments) that Prosecution witnesses examined in the matter are interested to witness, who is stated to be an eye witness of the incident is a close relative of deceased hence his evidence cannot be relied upon being interested /related/chance witness.

The following observations were made by the Honorable Court:

 “It is trite law that non­-examination of an Independent witness by itself is not sufficient to raise any suspicion or doubt as regards the case of the prosecution, if otherwise quality of evidence of the interested witnesses so examined, is found credible. It is also well settled legal position that the quality and not the quantity of witnesses which is material and conviction can be based even on a single testimony if it is found to be trustworthy.”

Reference to the Observation made by the Honorable Supreme Court in  Dalip Singh and others Vs State of Punjab, AIR 1953, SC 364, was made along with others

“ We are unable to agree with the learned Judges of the High Court that the testimony of the two eyewitnesses requires corroboration. If the foundation for such an observation is based on the fact that the witnesses are women and that the fate of seven men hangs on their testimony, we know of no such rule. If it is grounded on the reason that they are closely related to the deceased we are unable to concur. This is a fallacy common to many criminal cases and one which another Bench of this court endeavored to dispel in Rameshwar Vs State of Rajasthan, AIR 1952 SC 54. We find, however, that it unfortunately still persists, if not in the judgments of the courts, at any rate in the arguments of counsel. ”

“Once Court is satisfied that witnesses were present at the scene of occurrence and their evidence inspires confidence then the same cannot be discarded on the sole ground of relationship with the deceased. Therefore, there is no reason to disbelieve their testimony merely for the reason that they are an interested/chance witnesses.”

The Court further added that, “The question of awarding sentence is a matter of discretion to be exercised on consideration of circumstances aggravating and mitigating in the individual cases. It is settled legal position that appropriate sentence should be awarded after giving due consideration to the facts and circumstances of each case, nature of offence and the manner in which it was executed or committed.

‘The measure of punishment should be proportionate to gravity of offence. Object of sentencing should be to protect society and to deter the criminal in achieving avowed object of law….Punishment to be awarded for a crime must not be irrelevant, but it should conform to and be consistent with the atrocity and brutality which the crime has been perpetrated, enormity of crime warranting public abhorrence and it should ‘respond to the society’s cry for justice against the criminal’.

It held that “on the basis of aforesaid ocular and medical evidence involvement of the accused­/appellant in commission of the offence stands proved beyond all reasonable doubt.”