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The evidence of official witnesses cannot be distrusted and disbelieved, merely on account of their

Surinder Kumar v. State of PunjabCriminal Appeal No. 512 of 2009 – 6th January, 2020

Coram: A three judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice B.R. Gavai

It was held that: “The Court held that the non-examination of independent witnesses who were present during the investigation does not vitiate the trial procedure and the subsequent findings of the court.” The bench evaluated the question of law regarding whether the non-examination of independent witnesses and link evidences would vitiate the trial proceedings and the subsequent findings?

The appellant was arrested by the police for the possession of cannabis in the presence of ASP Abohar under Sec. 18 of the NDPS Act. The police seized the cannabis that was found with him and the samples were collected for examination. After due investigation the appellant was arrested.  The trial was intiated and the trial court sentenced the appellant to rigorous imprisonment for 10 years and to pay a fine of Rs. 1,00,000/-. Aggrieved by the order of the trial court the appellant appealed to the High Court which was dismissed.

The appellant contended that the prosecution has not examined the independent witnesses present during the investigation and that all the witnesses of the prosecution were merely official witnesses. They contended that the link evidences being the samples collected were not properly examined by the magistrate thereby vitiating the trial proceedings.

The respondents refuted the arguments of the appellants by relying on the judgements of Jarnail Singh v. State of Punjab, State of NCT of Delhi v. Sunil, Mohan Lal and Varinder Kumar.

“It is an archaic notion that actions of the Police Officer, should be approached with initial distrust. It is time now to start placing at least initial trust on the actions and the documents made by the Police. At any rate, the Courts cannot start with the presumption that the police records are untrustworthy. As a presumption of law, the presumption would be the other way round. The official acts of the Police have been regularly performed is a wise principle of presumption and recognized even by the Legislature”.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the non-examination of independent witnesses cannot vitiate the trial and that the link evidences had been properly examined by the trial court. The Court dismissed the appeal based on a lack of merits and cancelled the bail bonds of the appellant.

View/ Download the Judgment: Surinder Kumar v State of Punjab

–  Vignesh Hariharan. R



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