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interested witness= This Court has consistently held that as a general rule the Court can and may act on the testimony of a single witness provided he is wholly reliable. There is no legal impediment in convicting a person on the sole testimony of a single witness. That is the logic of Section 134 of the Evidence Act, 1872. But if there are doubts about the testimony, the court will insist on corroboration. In fact, it is not the number, the quantity, but the quality that is material. The time- honoured principle is that evidence has to be weighed and not counted. The test is whether the evidence has a ring of truth, is cogent, credible and trustworthy or otherwise. = contradiction/ommissions/improvements= It is settled legal proposition that while appreciating the evidence, the court has to take into consideration whether the contradictions/omissions/improvements/embellishments etc. had been of such magnitude that they may materially affect the trial. Minor contradictions, inconsistencies, omissions or improvements on trivial matters without affecting the case of the prosecution should not be made the court to reject the evidence in its entirety. The court after going through the entire evidence must form an opinion about the credibility of the witnesses and the appellate court in natural course would not be justified in reviewing the same again without justifiable reasons.

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            IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
          CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

             CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 831 OF 2010

Takdir Samsuddin Sheikh                                                  ...Appellant 

                                      Versus

State of Gujarat & Anr.                                                 ...Respondents

                                    With

             CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 832 OF 2010

                            J U D G M E N T

Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN, J.

1.        Both these appeals have been preferred against the judgment 

and   order   dated   4.5.2009   passed   by   the   High Court   of   Gujarat   at 

Ahmedabad   in   Criminal   Appeal   No.278   of   2002,   by   which   it   has 

affirmed the judgment and order passed by the Sessions Court dated 

14.12.2001 in Sessions Case No.24 of 2001 in which the appellants 

got convicted under Section 302 read with Section 114 of the Indian 

Penal   Code,   1860   (hereinafter   called   "IPC")   and   sentenced   to   life 

imprisonment with a fine of Rs.1000/- each.

2.       Facts and circumstances giving rise to these appeals are :-

(a)      That Shri Bharat Rajendraprasad Trivedi (PW.1) lodged the 

         complaint on 21.9.2000 that the complainant, deceased along 

         with both the appellants had gone to see the land in their two 

         cars. The complainant (PW.1) and deceased were in one car, 

         while   appellant   No.1   in   another   car   being   driven   by   the 

         appellant No.2.   Thereafter, they came back and decided to 

         meet   the   owner   of   the   land   Smt.     Jadaavben   Ambalal 

         Parmar  (PW.3).   Thereafter, at about 2.30 p.m.   when they 

         were   coming   back   in   their   respective   cars,   both   the 

         appellants asked the deceased  and complainant to stop their 

         car.   Both the appellants got down from the car with swords  

         and   started   giving   indiscriminate   blows   to   Moiyuddin 

         Shaikh,   deceased,   when   the   complainant   and   deceased   had 

         come out from their cars after receiving signal given by the 

         appellants.   The complainant got scared and started running 

         away.   He was chased by the appellant Rameshbhai Ramlal 

         Kahar.

                                                                               2

(b)    The   complainant   Bharat   Rajendraprasad   Trivedi   informed 

       the brother of the deceased on telephone about the incident 

       and   also   filed   the   complaint   with   Vadodara   Taluka   Police 

       Station   vide   C.R.   No.94   of   2000.     The   police   reached   the 

       place   of   incident   and   recovered   the   dead   body.     The   dead 

       body was sent for post-mortem in S.S.G. Hospital Vadodara. 

       According  to  the  post-mortem   report,  a  total  of  33  injuries 

       had been caused on the body of the deceased. In the opinion 

       of   the   Doctor,   the   cause   of   death   was   shock   and 

       haemorrhage following multiple incised wounds.  

(c)    The   Investigating   Officer   had   been   searching   for   the 

       appellants.     Both   the   appellants/accused   were   arrested   on 

       3.10.2000 while they were travelling in the Car No.GJ-6 JJ-

       2408 on the highway.  The car was checked  and in the dicky 

       of the car blood stained clothes were found.   Blood stained 

       swords were also recovered on the disclosure statements of 

       the appellants. One of the swords was not having the handle. 

(d)    After   conclusion   of   the   investigation,   the   police   submitted 

       the   charge-sheet   and   the   matter   was   committed   to   the 

       Sessions Court, Vadodara. After conclusion of the trial, the 

       Sessions   Court   vide   judgment   and   order   dated   14.12.2001 

       convicted the appellants under Section 302 read with Section 

                                                                              3

         114   IPC   and   both   of   them   have   been   sentenced   to   life 

         imprisonment with a fine of Rs.1,000/- each.      

3.       Being aggrieved, both the appellants preferred appeal before 

the High Court which has been dismissed vide impugned judgment 

and order dated 4.5.2009.  Hence, these appeals.

4.       We   have   heard   Mr.   Vikas Singh   and   Mr.   Nachiketa   Joshi 

learned   counsel   for   the   appellants   and   Mrs.   Hemantika   Wahi   with 

Ms. Jesal, learned counsel for the State.  

5.       Learned   counsel   for   the   appellants   have   submitted   that 

recovery of the blood stained clothes after 13 days from the car of 

the appellants is totally improbable and so is the recovery of blood 

stained swords. Recoveries made after such a long period cannot be 

relied   upon   as   it   can   be   presumed   that   the   incriminating 

articles/materials   had   been   planted.   There   had   been   material 

contradictions/embellishments/improvements   in   the   statements   of 

witnesses which made the case of the prosecution totally improbable. 

Complainant (PW.1), deceased and appellant No.1 were partners in 

the business of sale and purchase of lands. In fact, there is sufficient 

material on record to show that in the sale transaction of land  from 

Smt.     Jadaavben   Ambalal   Parmar   (PW.3),   as   the   entire   amount   of 

                                                                             4

consideration had not been paid to her by the deceased  Moiyuddin 

Shaikh and she  had raised  hue and cry, a large  number  of persons 

from   the   village   had   gathered   and   there   was   a   scuffle,   so,   it   was 

probable   that   those   villagers   might   have   killed   Moiyuddin   Shaikh, 

deceased.     It   was   not   even   possible   for   two   appellants   to   cause   as 

much   as   33   injuries   to   the   deceased.     This   defence   taken   by   the 

appellants had not been given proper weightage by the courts below. 

The   complainant   who   was   partner   in   the   Firm   along   with   the 

deceased   and   appellant   no.1   herein   could   have   also   created   the 

mischief   as   he   would   be   the   beneficiary   in   terms   of   money   by 

eliminating   one   partner   Moiyuddin   Shaikh   and   getting   convicted 

appellant No.1.    In view of the above, the impugned judgment and 

order is liable to be set aside, and appeals deserve to be allowed.

6.        Per contra, Mrs. Hemantika Wahi, learned Standing counsel 

for the State has opposed the appeal contending that the facts of the 

case do not warrant interference with concurrent findings of facts by 

the   two   courts.   The   courts   below   have   rightly   appreciated   the 

evidence   on   record.   Contradictions,   being   trivial   in   nature   had 

rightly been ignored. Recoveries made in the case have rightly been 

believed.     The   appellants   could   be   apprehended   on   3.10.2000. 

Therefore,   the   question   of   recovery   of   blood   stained   clothes   or 

                                                                                     5

swords could not arise prior to that.  The appeals lack merit and are 

liable to be dismissed.

7.        We have considered the rival submissions made by learned 

counsel for the parties and perused the record. 

8.        The sheet anchor of the argument on behalf of the appellants 

had   been   the   contradictions/improvements   in   the   statement   of   the 

witnesses.   They are most immaterial and irrelevant for the trial. In 

case   the   earnest   deed   had   not   been   seen/examined   by   the 

complainant   (PW.1),  as  deposed  by  him,   it could  not be  presumed 

that the complainant, who was a partner in the Firm had seen it.  In 

case,   the   complainant   had   not   been   the   witness   to   the   said   earnest 

deed   it   is   quite   natural   that   though   he   was   present   at   the   time   of 

executing   the   earnest   deed   he   might   have   not   seen   it.     Another 

incident cited is that he did not disclose as to whether he had not told 

the deceased as what was the agreement/understanding in respect of 

sharing the benefit in the transaction of land with Smt.   Jadaavben 

Ambalal  Parmar (PW.3).

9.        We are of the view that all omissions/contradictions pointed 

out by the appellants' counsel  had been trivial in nature,  which do 

not go to the root of the cause. 

                                                                                        6

                         It is settled legal proposition that while appreciating the  

evidence,   the   court   has   to   take   into   consideration   whether   the 

contradictions/omissions/improvements/embellishments   etc.     had 

been   of   such   magnitude   that   they   may   materially   affect   the   trial. 

Minor   contradictions,   inconsistencies,   omissions   or   improvements 

on   trivial   matters   without   affecting   the   case   of   the   prosecution 

should  not  be made  the  court  to reject  the evidence  in  its  entirety. 

The   court   after   going   through   the   entire   evidence   must   form   an 

opinion about the credibility of the witnesses and the appellate court 

in natural course would not be justified in reviewing the same again 

without justifiable reasons.

(Vide: Sunil Kumar Sambhudayal Gupta (Dr.) & Ors. v. State of 

Maharashtra,   (2010) 13 SCC 657).

10.       The complainant Shri Bharat Rajendraprasad Trivedi (PW.1) 

is   the   sole   eye-witness.     It   has   been   submitted   on   behalf   of   the 

appellants that being a sole and an interested witness,  his evidence 

cannot   be   relied   upon   without   corroboration.     The   submissions 

advanced   in   this  respect   had  been   that   Shri   Bharat  Rajendraprasad 

Trivedi (PW.1) being a partner in the Firm would be beneficiary in 

the transaction of land involved herein in case one partner had been 

                                                                                   7

eliminated and other partner landed in jail.  Such an argument is not  

acceptable for two reasons:

(i)       While appreciating the evidence of witness considering him 

as the interested witness, the court must bear in mind that the term 

`interested' postulates that the witness must have some direct interest 

in   having   the   accused   somehow   or   the   other   convicted   for   some  

other   reason.   (Vide:  Kartik   Malhar   v.   State   of   Bihar,   (1996)   1 

SCC   614;   and  Rakesh   &   Anr.   v.   State   of   Madhya   Pradesh,   JT 

2011 (10) SC 525).

(ii)      This   Court   has   consistently   held   that   as   a   general   rule   the 

Court can and may act on the testimony of a single witness provided 

he is wholly reliable.   There is no legal impediment in convicting a 

person on the sole testimony of a single witness.  That is the logic of 

Section 134 of the Evidence Act, 1872. But if there are doubts about 

the testimony, the court will insist on corroboration. In fact, it is not 

the number, the quantity, but the quality that is material. The time-

honoured   principle   is   that   evidence   has   to   be   weighed   and   not 

counted.   The   test   is   whether   the   evidence   has   a   ring   of   truth,   is 

cogent, credible and trustworthy or otherwise. The legal system has 

laid emphasis on value, weight and quality of evidence  rather than 

on   quantity,   multiplicity   or   plurality   of   witnesses.   It   is,   therefore, 

open to a competent court to fully and completely rely on a solitary 

                                                                                     8

witness and record conviction. Conversely, it may acquit the accused 

in spite of testimony of several witnesses if it is not satisfied about 

the   quality   of   evidence.   (See:  Vadivelu   Thevar   v.   The   State   of 

Madras, AIR 1957 SC 614; Sunil Kumar v. State Govt. of NCT of 

Delhi,     (2003)   11   SCC   367;  Namdeo   v.   State   of   Maharashtra, 

(2007)  14  SCC  150;  and  Bipin  Kumar  Mondal  v.  State  of  West 

Bengal, AIR 2010 SC 3638). 

11.       We   do   not   find   any   force   in   the   submissions   advanced   on 

behalf of   the appellants that it was not possible for two persons to 

cause   33   injuries   on   the   person   of   the   deceased   and   therefore,   the 

villagers   could   have   caused   such   injuries.     Had   it   been   so,   as   the 

scuffle took place in the presence of the appellants, they could have 

given   the   full   details   of   the   incident   and   further   disclosed   as   to 

whether those villagers reached the place of occurrence with swords. 

Had it been so, Smt.  Jadaavben    Ambalal  Parmar  (PW.3)   and her 

son   Sureshbhai   Ambalal   Parmar   (PW.5)     could   have   also   been 

involved in the case.  

12.       As the courts below have discussed  each and every factual 

and legal aspect of the case  elaborately, we do not think it proper to  

re-examine   every   point.     Presence   of   the   complainant   along   with 

deceased and appellants was natural as being partners, they had gone 

                                                                                     9

to   see   the   land.     In   case,   there   was   some   scuffle   at   the   place   of 

incident for the reason that the entire consideration for land had not 

been paid to   Smt.   Jadaavben Ambalal   Parmar (PW.3), what was 

the occasion for the villagers to chase the deceased and kill him  and 

that is too, without harming complainant and the appellants.   More 

so,   in   case   only   agreement   to   sell   had   been   executed,   question   of 

making   payment   of   full   consideration   would   not   arise.   However, 

Sureshbhai   Ambalal   Parmar   (PW.5)   had   stated   that   sale   deed   and 

agreement   to   sell   had   been   executed   simultaneously.     We   fail   to 

understand   in   case   the   sale   deed   is   being   executed,   what   was   the 

occasion for executing the agreement to sell in respect of the same 

land   in   the   same   transaction.     Shri   Vasimuddin   Jenuddin   Shaikh 

(PW.4), brother of the deceased  has admitted that immediately after 

the   incident   he   received   the   phone   call   from   the   complainant 

regarding   the   incident.     This   very   fact   makes   the   prosecution   case  

most probable.  FIR had been lodged promptly.  Thus, there was no 

time for any kind of manipulation.  

13.       After   appreciating   the   evidence,   the   two   courts   below 

reached the following conclusions: 

(i)       Bharat   Trivedi   (PW.1)   is   an   eye-witness.   He   had 

accompanied deceased at the time when the incident had taken place. 

                                                                                        10

Though, he was subjected to cross-examination, nothing substantial 

could be elicited. 

(ii)     Death of the deceased is proved.   Appellants were arrested 

after 13 days and from the dickey of their car clothes stained with 

blood were discovered. 

(iii)    The evidence of Bharat Trivedi (PW.1) is fully   trustworthy 

and he is not an interested witness.

(iv)     In   fact,   Bharat   Trivedi   (PW.1)   had   informed   brother   of 

deceased about the incident without any loss of time. 

(v)      Bharat Trivedi   (PW.1) stated that he had made  phone call 

from   STD,   PCO   booth   whereas   the   relevant   witness   Budhabhai 

Prajapati (PW.6) stated that accused had made call from   his place 

but   this   discrepancy   is   insignificant.   All   the   witnesses   are 

trustworthy. 

(vi)     Principle of falsus in uno falsus in omnibus is not applicable 

to a criminal trial in India. 

(vii)    The assertion by Bharat Trivedi (PW.1) that he was with the  

deceased   could   not   be   demonstrated   to   be   untrue   merely   because 

Bharat   Trivedi   (PW.1)   had   not   informed   the   police   first   but   had 

informed brother of the deceased. 

                                                                               11

14.      We   had   been   taken   through   the   entire   record   by   learned 

counsel for the parties. We do not find any ground on the basis of 

which we may reach the conclusion that any of the findings recorded 

by the courts below is improbable or does not require affirmation.  

15.      In   view   of   the   above,   we   do   not   see   any   cogent   reason   to 

interfere with the impugned judgments and order.  The appeals lack 

merit and are accordingly dismissed.

                                                             ....................................J.

                                                             ( Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN )

                                                             ....................................J.

                                                             ( A.K. PATNAIK ) New Delhi, October 21, 2011                                                                                     12

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