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Witness Can’t be Recalled for Different Statement in Another Case Relating to Same Incident: SC

2 min read

Debangana Ray

Published on June 23, 2022 at 20:02 IST

The Supreme Court held that “merely because a different statement was given by the same prosecution witness in another case relating to the same incident, that itself would not be a reason for recalling the witness under Section 311, CrPC.”

In a 2014 murder case, a prosecution witness named Naushad gave a statement that he had identified the petitioner as one of the assailants of the crime.

In another trial under the Gangster Act, the same witness gave a Statement that he could not identify the petitioner as one of the assailants as he was wearing a cloth covering his face.

Relying on the second statement of the witness, the petitioner sought to recall him as a witness in the first trial.

However, the trial court rejected the application which the High Court upheld. The petitioner, then approached the Supreme Court.

The bench comprising of Justices Ravikumar and Dhulia stated that “The trial court has rejected this application and in our view rightly so, for the reasons that merely because a different statement given by the same prosecution witness in another case that itself would not be a reason for recalling the witness and that too, after a period of seven years.”

Further, the bench added, “It is not a case where a contradictory statement was given by some other witnesses in the present trial.”

Regarding a case cited by the petitioner, the court stated that, “However, we do not agree with the same. The case relied upon by the petitioner/accused, that is, in Sudevanand’s case (supra) is on an entirely different factual matrix.

In the said case, the witness had given two different versions that is one before the trial court and the different one before the Inquiry Commission, where he had turned into an approver…Therefore, in our view the reliance by the petitioner on the above decision is entirely misplaced.”

The bench then passed the following order, “Under these circumstances, we are not inclined to interfere with the order impugned passed by the High Court. Accordingly, the special leave petition is dismissed.”

Section 311 of the CrPC provides the ‘Power to summon material witness, or examine person present

“Any Court may, at any stage of any inquiry, trial or other proceeding under this Code, summon any person as a witness, or examine any person in attendance, though not summoned as a witness, or recall and re- examine any person already examined; and the Court shall summon and examine or recall and re- examine any such person if his evidence appears to it to be essential to the just decision of the case.”