Witness' statement cannot be rejected because of relation to deceased: SC

Witness' statement cannot be rejected because of relation to deceased: SC

 The Supreme Court has held that a witness' testimony cannot be rejected just because he or she is related to the deceased in a criminal case. It would, however, call for greater scrutiny and caution in examining the statement.

 A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Navin Sinha upheld the conviction and life term sentence awarded to three men from Tamil Nadu -- Balasubramanium and Govindaraj and Govindaraj's son Chandrashekharan -- for killing Gnanasekaran in July, 2007.The deceased was the brother of appellants Balasubramanium and Govindaraj.

In their plea, the appellants challenged their conviction and sentence, contending that the three prosecution witnesses – Lakshmi, wife of the deceased, her sister's son Udaychandran and her brother Lalbahadur Sastri were closely related to each other. Among other grounds, they argued all the three witnesses fall in the category of interested witness and it will not be safe to convict on the basis their version.

 “The fact that the witness may be related to the deceased by marriage, cannot be sufficient reason to classify him as a related and interested witness to reject his testimony. It may only call for greater scrutiny and caution in consideration of the same,” the bench said, rejecting their plea.

 Relying upon Lakshmi's testimony, the bench said, being the wife of the deceased, we find no reason why she would not be speaking the truth with regard to the real assailants instead of shielding them by false implication. The fact that she had the courage to name her own in-laws as the assailants is also a factor which speaks of the reliability of her evidence, the court added.

 The court found no reason to interfere with the conviction of the appellants, after noting that they came together armed with a hammer, sickle and iron rod and assaulted the deceased indiscriminately on the head repeatedly to ensure his death. It also noted that motive of the killing—acquittal of the deceased in a criminal case on previous day – was established beyond doubt.

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