The bench of Justice Sujoy Paul and Justice Prakash Chandra Gupta, while discussing the statement of Kavita and whether it could form the basis for conviction of the accused , said, “We find no difficulty in accepting the legal principle that in view of section 134 of Indian Evidence Act, the statement of a single eyewitness can form basis for conviction. In principle, there is no reason to discard this contention of learned government counsel. However, the entire legal journey on this aspect shows that such a single eyewitness must be of sterling quality. If eyebrows can be raised on such a statement, it is not safe to record or confirm conviction based thereupon.”
Examining Kavita’s statement in the trial court at length, the court said that as per her statement, she came back to her house with her mother and sister at around 5 pm. While putting the bundle of chaff in the courtyard, she found the appellant coming out of the room wearing white clothes. This witness did not depose that appellant was wearing any ‘gamchha’.
The court further said that pertinently, during cross-examination, Kavita said that the appellant was arrested from Sagar.
“It is further stated that the appellant came out of the house and fled towards Rajguru Pipariya. She also candidly deposed that ‘Hansiya’ and ‘Vasoola’ were not recovered from the scene of crime. It is important to note that she said in para-9 of the cross- examination that the head of appellant dashed with the door because of which his sunglasses dropped” the court said.
“This witness has seen a glimpse of the appellant from the backside. This statement, in our considered judgment does not inspire confidence for the simple reason that as per her narration she was entering the house with her mother and sister whereas the appellant was coming out of the house. In that situation, it would have been the front portion of the appellant which could have been seen by Kavita and not the back portion of the appellant. Merely because she lodged the report promptly does not mean that she had witnessed the incident. In our opinion, her statement is not of sterling quality and is not sufficient to record conviction solely based on it,” the court stated.
“Police had said that they seized a “gamcha” which the accused wore at the time of the murder and there were blood stains on it, but Kavita didn’t see him wearing “gamcha” while fleeing from the scene of crime. Police also said that “Hansiya” and “Vasoola” were used by the assailant to kill the woman, but she didn’t see the accused running away with the weapons used in the murder nor they were recovered from the scene of crime. There were also different statements from police on whether the accused was arrested from Amarwada or Sagar”, the court said.