SC: Oral evidence shall get primacy since medical evidence is opinionative

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 19th February 2019, in the matter of Balvir Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh which was heard with the matter of Bhav Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh and Harnam Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh, pronounced that testimony of prosecution witness can’t be doubted due to his antecedents, past involvement in criminal cases or hostility towards the accused. The evidence of eye witnesses are the eyes and ears of justice, therefore, a contention advanced on the basis of the opinion of the doctor cannot affect the oral evidence of the eye witnesses because oral evidence has to get primacy since medical evidence is basically opinionative.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

While the prime event of attack and the weapon are observed by a person, other minute details of number of blows, the distance from which the fire was shot might go unnoticed. So long as the evidence of eye witnesses is found credible and trustworthy, their evidence cannot be doubted on the ground of minor contradictions.  (Para 14)

Testimony of a witness cannot be doubted on the ground that he is involved in criminal cases or that he is inimical towards the accused. (This inference has been drawn on the basis of Para 17)

The antecedents of the prosecution witnesses cannot be the ground for doubting their version. This is all the more so, when the courts below have recorded concurrent findings of fact holding that the testimony of the witnesses is credible and acceptable. (Para 17)

Merely because the FIR contains inquest number, it cannot be said that the FIR was registered subsequent to the inquest. (Para 19)

A contention advanced on the basis of the opinion of the doctor cannot affect the oral evidence of the eye witnesses. (This inference has been drawn on the basis of Para 24)

Oral evidence has to get primacy since medical evidence is basically opinionative. (Para 26)

The inconsistencies pointed out in the evidence of eye- witnesses inter se and the alleged inconsistencies between the evidence of eye-witnesses and that of the medical evidence are minor contradictions and they do not shake the prosecution case. The evidence of eye witnesses are the eyes and ears of justice. (Para 27)

When the case of the prosecution is based on the eye-witnesses, the indecisive opinion given by the experts would not affect the prosecution case. (Para 30)

To invoke Section 34 IPC, it must be established that the criminal act was done by more than one person in furtherance of common intention of all. It must, therefore, be proved that:

  1. there was common intention on the part of several persons to commit a particular crime, and
  2. the crime was actually committed by them in furtherance of that common intention.

The essence of liability under Section 34 IPC is simultaneous conscious mind of persons participating in the criminal action to bring about a particular result. Minds regarding sharing of common intention gets satisfied when an overt act is established qua each of the accused. Common intention implies pre-arranged plan and acting in concert pursuant to the pre-arranged plan. Criminal act mentioned in Section 34 IPC is the result of the concerted action of more than one person and if the said result was reached in furtherance of common intention, each person is liable for the offence as if he has committed the offence by himself. (Para 33)

Inference of common intention is to be drawn from the conduct of the accused. (Para 34)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_19-Feb-2019

-Tushar Kaushik  

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