Some discrepancies in witnesses` statements can be ignored: SC

Minor discrepancies in the statements of witnesses can be ignored while convicting an accused in criminal cases, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Updated: Dec 19, 2010, 09:44 AM IST

New Delhi: Minor discrepancies in the statements of witnesses can be ignored while convicting an accused in criminal cases, the Supreme Court has ruled.

A bench of justices HS Bedi and CK Prasad in a judgement said when a large number of witnesses depose during a trial, there are bound to be discrepancies which cannot be a
justification for giving benefit of doubt to the accused.

"We find no merit in this submission as some discrepancies are bound to occur where a large number of witnesses appear for the prosecution.

"In this case, several of the prosecution witnesses were completely independent and we can find no reason to disbelieve their testimonies," the bench said.

The apex court passed the judgement while dismissing the appeal of Nandyala Venkatramana, convicted for abetting the suicide of his newly-married wife Bhavani over demands of dowry.

It was the case of the prosecution that the victim was subjected to harassment for additional dowry right from the day of her marriage, which took place on April 27, 1992.

Bhavani hanged herself on April 10, 1993 at her mother`s house in Andhra Pradesh`s Kadapa district after leaving behind three suicide notes wherein she blamed the in-laws and husband for her suicide.

The sessions court convicted Venkatramana and his father, while acquitting the former`s brother. The victim`s mother-in-law died during the trial.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court confirmed the conviction, following which the husband appealed in the apex court claiming there were discrepancies in the statements made by
the witnesses.

However, the apex court was not convinced with the argument and said the three dying declarations left behind by the deceased in the form of letters were sufficient to
establish the guilt of the convicts.

Further, there were other evidence in the form of a letter written to the District Collector which clearly established the guilt of the convict, the bench said.

"In this letter, the deceased has stated that she had been harassed and demands for dowry had been made right from the beginning of the marriage.

"Likewise Exhibit P-3 and P-4 refer to the facts that she was continued to be harassed for dowry, cash and other articles and that she was feeling frustrated as she was not in
a position to ask her mother for any more dowry or cash. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the letters aforesaid clearly inculpate the appellant in the incident," the bench
said.

PTI