Anees vs State Govt Of NCT 2024 INSC 368 – Public Prosecutor – Ss 106, 165,27 Evidence Act- Ss 162 CrPC

Public Prosecutor – There should not be any element of political consideration in the matters like appointment to the post of public prosecutor, etc. The only consideration for the Government should be the merit of the person. The person should be not only competent, but he should also be a man of impeccable character and integrity. He should be a person who should be able to work independently without any reservations, dictates or other constraints. The relations between the Public Prosecution Service and the judiciary are the very cornerstone of the criminal justice system. The public prosecutors who are responsible for conducting prosecutions and may appeal against the court decisions, are one of judges’ natural counterparts in the trial proceedings and also in the broader context of management of the system of criminal law- The duty of the Public Prosecutor to cross-examine a hostile witness in detail and try to elucidate the truth & also establish that the witness is speaking lie and has deliberately resiled from his police statement recorded under Section 161 of the Cr.P.C. A good, seasoned and experienced Public Prosecutor will not only bring the contradictions on record, but will also cross-examine the hostile witness at length to establish that he or she had actually witnessed the incident as narrated in his/her police statement- It is not sufficient for the public prosecutor while cross-examining a hostile witness to merely hurl suggestions, as mere suggestions have no evidentiary value. (Para 67- 70)

Indian Evidence Act, 1872; Section 165 – Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973; Section 311– If the questioning by the public prosecutor is not skilled, like in the case at hand, the result is that the State as a prosecuting agency will not be able to elicit the truth from the child witness. It is the duty of the court to arrive at the truth and subserve the ends of justice. The courts have to take a participatory role in the trial and not act as mere tape recorders to record whatever is being stated by the witnesses. The judge has to monitor the proceedings in aid of justice. Even if the prosecutor is remiss or lethargic in some ways, the court should control the proceedings effectively so that the ultimate objective that is the truth is arrived at. The court must be conscious of serious pitfalls and dereliction of duty on the part of the prosecuting agency. Upon failure of the prosecuting agency showing indifference or adopting an attitude of aloofness, the trial judge must exercise the vast powers conferred under Section 165 of the Evidence Act and Section 311 of the Cr.P.C. respectively to elicit all the necessary materials by playing an active role in the evidence collecting process- The judge is expected to actively participate in the trial, elicit necessary materials from the witnesses in the appropriate context which he feels necessary for reaching the correct conclusion. The judge has uninhibited power to put questions to the witness either during the chief examination or cross-examination or even during re-examination for this purpose. If a judge feels that a witness has committed an error or slip, it is the duty of the judge to ascertain whether it was so, for, to err is human and the chances of erring may accelerate under stress of nervousness during cross-examination. (Para 73-74)

Indian Penal Code, 1860; Section 300– The sine qua non for the application of an Exception to Section 300 always is that it is a case of murder but the accused claims the benefit of the Exception to bring it out of that Section and to make it a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. This plea, therefore, assumes that this is a case of murder. Hence, as per Section 105 of the Evidence Act, it is for the accused to show the applicability of the Exception-Four conditions must be satisfied to bring the matter within Exception 4: (i) it was a sudden fight; (ii) there was no premeditation; (iii) the act was done in the heat of passion; and; that (iv) the assailant had not taken any undue advantage or acted in a cruel manner. 80. On a plain reading of Exception 4, it appears that the help of Exception 4 can be invoked if death is caused (a) without premeditation, (b) in a sudden fight, (c) without the offenders having taken undue advantage or having acted in a cruel or unusual manner; and (d) the fight must have been with the person killed. To bring a case within Exception 4, all the ingredients mentioned in it must be found. (Para 78-80) – Where the offender takes undue advantage or has acted in a cruel or an unusual manner, the benefit of Exception 4 cannot be given to him. If the weapon used or the manner of attack by the assailant is disproportionate, that circumstance must be taken into consideration to decide whether undue advantage has been taken. (Para 83)

Indian Evidence Act, 1872; Section 106– Principles of law governing the applicability of Section 106 of the Evidence Act – Section 106 of the Evidence Act referred to above provides that when any fact is especially within the knowledge of any person, the burden of proving that fact is upon him. The word “especially” means facts that are pre-eminently or exceptionally within the knowledge of the accused. The ordinary rule that applies to the criminal trials that the onus lies on the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused is not in any way modified by the rule of facts embodied in Section 106 of the Evidence Act. Section 106 of the Evidence Act is an exception to Section 101 of the Evidence Act. Section 101 with its illustration (a) lays down the general rule that in a criminal case the burden of proof is on the prosecution and Section 106 is certainly not intended to relieve it of that duty. On the contrary, it is designed to meet certain exceptional cases in which it would be impossible, or at any rate disproportionately difficult, for the prosecution to establish the facts which are, “especially within the knowledge of the accused and which, he can prove without difficulty or inconvenience”- The court should apply Section 106 of the Evidence Act in criminal cases with care and caution. It cannot be said that it has no application to criminal cases. The ordinary rule which applies to criminal trials in this country that the onus lies on the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused is not in any way modified by the provisions contained in Section 106 of the Evidence Act. 44. Section 106 of the Evidence Act cannot be invoked to make up the inability of the prosecution to produce evidence of circumstances pointing to the guilt of the accused. This section cannot be used to support a conviction unless the prosecution has discharged the onus by proving all the elements necessary to establish the offence. It does not absolve the prosecution from the duty of proving that a crime was committed even though it is a matter specifically within the knowledge of the accused and it does not throw the burden on the accused to show that no crime was committed. To infer the guilt of the accused from absence of reasonable explanation in a case where the other circumstances are not by themselves enough to call for his explanation is to relieve the prosecution of its legitimate burden. So, until a prima facie case is established by such evidence, the onus does not shift to the accused-Section 106 of the Evidence Act obviously refers to cases where the guilt of the accused is established on the evidence produced by the prosecution unless the accused is able to prove some other facts especially within his knowledge, which would render the evidence of the prosecution nugatory. If in such a situation, the accused offers an explanation which may be reasonably true in the proved circumstances, the accused gets the benefit of reasonable doubt though he may not be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt the truth of the explanation. But, if the accused in such a case does not give any explanation at all or gives a false or unacceptable explanation, this by itself is a circumstance which may well turn the scale against him – But Section 106 of the Evidence Act has no application to cases where the fact in question, having regard to its nature, is such as to be capable of being known not only to the accused but also to others, if they happened to be present when it took place. The intention underlying the act or conduct of any individual is seldom a matter which can be conclusively established; it is indeed only known to the person in whose mind the intention is conceived. Therefore, if the prosecution has established that the character and circumstance of an act suggest that it was done with a particular intention, then under illustration (a) to this section, it may be assumed that he had that intention, unless he proves the contrary – Distinction between the burden of proof and the burden of going forward with the evidence – Generally, the burden of proof upon any affirmative proposition necessary to be established as the foundation of an issue does not shift, but the burden of evidence or the burden of explanation may shift from one side to the other according to the testimony. Thus, if the prosecution has offered evidence, which if believed by the court, would convince them of the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the accused, if in a position, should go forward with counter-vailing evidence, if he has such evidence. When facts are peculiarly within the knowledge of the accused, the burden is on him to present evidence of such facts, whether the proposition is an affirmative or negative one. He is not required to do so even though a prima facie case has been established, for the court must still find that he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before it can convict. However, the accused’s failure to present evidence on his behalf may be regarded by the court as confirming the conclusion indicated by the evidence presented by the prosecution or as confirming presumptions which might arise therefrom. Although not legally required to produce evidence on his own behalf, the accused may, therefore, as a practical matter find it essential to go forward with proof. This does not alter the burden of proof resting upon the prosecution. (Para 25-48)

Indian Evidence Act, 1872; Section 8,27- The evidence of discovery would be admissible as conduct under Section 8 of the Evidence Act quite apart from the admissibility of the disclosure statement under Section 27 of the Evidence – However, conduct of the accused alone, though may be relevant under Section 8 of the Evidence Act, cannot form the basis of conviction. (Para 57-61)

Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973; Section 161,162- Section 162 Cr.P.C. bars the use of statement of witnesses recorded by the police except for the limited purpose of contradiction of such witnesses as indicated therein. The statement made by a witness before the police under Section 161(1) Cr.P.C. can be used only for the purpose of contradicting such witness on what he has stated at the trial as laid down in the proviso to Section 162(1) Cr.P.C. The statements under Section 161 Cr.P.C. recorded during the investigation are not substantive pieces of evidence but can be used primarily for the limited purpose: (i) of contradicting such witness by an accused under Section 145 of the Evidence Act; (ii) the contradiction of such witness also by the prosecution but with the leave of the Court; and (iii) the re-examination of the witness if necessary- The court cannot suo motu make use of statements to police not proved and ask questions with reference to them which are inconsistent with the testimony of the witness in the court. The words ‘if duly proved’ used in Section 162 Cr.P.C. clearly show that the record of the statement of witnesses cannot be admitted in evidence straightaway, nor can be looked into, but they must be duly proved for the purpose of contradiction by eliciting admission from the witness during cross-examination and also during the cross-examination of the Investigating Officer. The statement before the Investigating Officer can be used for contradiction but only after strict compliance with Section 145 of the Evidence Act, that is, by drawing attention to the parts intended for contradiction. (Para 63-64)

Indian Evidence Act, 1872; Section 145 -When it is intended to contradict the witness by his previous statement reduced into writing, the attention of such witness must be called to those parts of it which are to be used for the purpose of contradicting him, before the writing can be used. While recording the deposition of a witness, it becomes the duty of the trial court to ensure that the part of the police statement with which it is intended to contradict the witness is brought to the notice of the witness in his crossexamination. The attention of witness is drawn to that part and this must reflect in his cross-examination by reproducing it. If the witness admits the part intended to contradict him, it stands proved and there is no need of further proof of contradiction and it will be read while appreciating the evidence. If he denies having made that part of the statement, his attention must be drawn to that statement and must be mentioned in the deposition. By this process the contradiction is merely brought on record, but it is yet to be proved. Thereafter, when the Investigating Officer is examined in the court, his attention should be drawn to the passage marked for the purpose of contradiction, it will then be proved in the deposition of the Investigating Officer who, again, by referring to the police statement will depose about the witness having made that statement. The process again involves referring to the police statement and culling out that part with which the maker of the statement was intended to be contradicted. If the witness was not confronted with that part of the statement with which the defence wanted to contradict him, then the court cannot suo motu make use of statements to police not proved in compliance with Section 145 of the Evidence Act, that is, by drawing attention to the parts intended for contradiction (Para 66)

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