New Delhi: Evidence of a co-accused can be
relied upon as long as it is trustworthy, the Supreme Court
has held, upholding the conviction of six persons for the
murder of Tapan Chakraborthy, a DYFI(Democratic Youth
Federation) activist in Tripura.
A bench of justices P Sathasivam and H L Gokhale said
that although evidence tendered by an approver cannot be
relied upon on the same footing of a normal witness, yet, it
is a valid piece of evidence under Section 307 and 308 of the
"The evidence of an approver does not differ from the
evidence of any other witness save in one particular aspect,
namely, that the evidence of an accomplice is regarded ab
initio as open to grave suspicion.
"If the suspicion which attaches to the evidence of an
accomplice be not removed, that evidence should not be acted
upon unless corroborated in some material particulars; but if
the suspicion attaching to the accomplice?s evidence be
removed, then that evidence may be acted upon even though
uncorroborated, and the guilt of the accused may be
established upon the evidence alone," Justice Sathasivam
writing the judgement observed.
The convicted appellants Mrinal Das and another person
had moved the apex court challenging the Gauhati High Court`s
decision to convict them after reversing the acquittal order
passed by the trial court. The other convicted persons are
Pradip Das, Somesh Das, Anil Das, Tapan Das and Gautam Das
for the murder committed on August 31, 2000.
The convicts submitted that their conviction was
erroneous as the prosection and the high court mainly relied
on the evidence tendered by co-accused Ratan Sukladas.
Rejecting the plea, the bench said, "The object of
Section 306 of the CrPC is to allow pardon in cases where
heinous offence is alleged to have been committed by several
persons so that with the aid of the evidence of the person
granted pardon, the offence may be brought home to rest."
The apex court said under Section 306 of the Code, the
magistrate is also empowered to tender pardon to an accomplice
at any stage of inquiry or trial but not at the stage of
investigation on condition of his making full and true
disclosure of the entire circumstances within his knowledge
related to the crime.
Hence it dismissed the convicts` plea.