New Delhi: There is no absolute command of law that the testimonies of cops should always be viewed with suspicion if public witnesses to an offence do not come forward to depose, the Supreme Court on Monday said.
A bench of justices B S Chauhan and Dipak Misra said the testimony of a cop should not be disbelieved on the ground that that he is a policeman and rather, the deposition be scrutinised on "the principle that quality of the evidence weighs over the quantity of evidence."
"...There is no absolute command of law that the police officers cannot be cited as witnesses and their testimony should always be treated with suspicion.
"Ordinarily, the public at large show their disinclination to come forward to become witnesses. If the testimony of the police officer is found to be reliable and trustworthy, the court can definitely act upon the same," the bench said while referring to various previous judgements.
It said after scrutinising the evidence, the court may disbelieve the testimony of a policeman "but it should not do so solely on the presumption that a witness from the department of police should be viewed with distrust."
The observations came in a verdict rejecting the appeal of Pramod Kumar against his conviction for killing constable Maharaj Singh on March 19, 1999 at Ghitorni village here.
Singh along with others had gone to a house at the village to arrest Pramod Kumar, a proclaimed offender who was evading arrest in a criminal case.
The accused, in his bid to flee, first stabbed the cop and then fired at him from his country-made pistol. The constable later died.
The trial court and the Delhi High Court upheld his conviction for various offences including that of murder.
Seeking acquittal, the convict told the apex court that apart from policemen, no independent witness was examined.
He also took the plea that in fact, another policeman had fired at Singh. The pleas, however, were rejected by the apex court.