Quality of witness, not quantity matters: SC

Supreme Court of India.
Supreme Court of India. File/ GK

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it is not the quantity but the quality of witnesses which matters, as it upheld the conviction and life term handed down to three for murdering four members of a family in Uttar Pradesh in 2007.

A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Vikram Nath said: "It is the discretion of the prosecution to lead as much evidence as is necessary for proving the charge. It is not the quantity of the witnesses but the quality of witnesses which matters."

The bench noted that one of the daughters of deceased Vijay Pal Singh had seen the assailants murdering her family members and also causing injury to one of them and wisely did not speak out anything in their presence and allowed them to remain in the dark that she had actually seen them committing the crime.

It further added that the daughter of one of the deceased, who was examined as a prosecution witness in the case,was injured during the incident, was a "fully reliable witness and has stated the things in the natural course".

The top court judgment came on a clutch of appeals, including those filed by the convicts, challenging the February 2012 Allahabad High Court judgment, which affirmed their conviction in the case. The court noted that one of the convicts, Ajai, has since died.

The trial court had awarded the death sentence to the accused but the high court, while affirming their conviction, commuted it to life term.

In the apex court, one of the convicts had argued that there were several discrepancies and inconsistencies in the evidence.

However, the bench said: "We need not go into details as the same are minor and do not have any impact on the findings recorded by the courts below." The Uttar Pradesh government had sought enhancement of the sentence. The top court said sound and cogent reasons were given by the high court for commuting the death sentence into life term.

The incident occurred in August 2007, in Ghaziabad district where a man, his wife, his son, and his son-in-law were found murdered at their home with their necks cut with sharp-edged weapons.

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