10 Important Case Laws on Non-Joining of Independent Witnesses

The non-joining of public witnesses is fatal to the prosecution case, particularly when no reasonable explanation has been given by prosecution for not joining of public witnesses and no efforts seem to have been made for joining independent witnesses.

1. Roop Chand Vs. State of Haryana, CC Cases 3 (HC)

Where the police has failed to join independent witnesses in the investigation despite their availability and further failed to take action against those who refused to take part in investigation nor their names were noted down by the police, the explanation of the police for not joining independent witnesses is an afterthought and liable to be rejected.

2. Hem Raj v. State of Haryana, AIR 2005 SC 2110

The fact that no independent witness though available, was not examined and not even an explanation was sought to be given for not examining such witness is a serious infirmity in the prosecution case. Amongst the independent witnesses one who was very much in the know of things from the beginning was not examined by the prosecution. Non-examination of independent witness by itself may not give rise to adverse inference against the prosecution. However, when the evidence of the alleged eye-witnesses raise serious doubts on the point of their presence at the time of actual occurrence, the unexplained omission to examine the independent witness would assume significance.

3. Sahib Singh v. Sate of Punjab, AIR 1997 SC 2417

Before conducting a search the concerned police officer is required to call upon some independent and respectable people of the locality to witness the search. In a given case it may so happen that no such person is available or, even if available, is not willing to be a party to such search. It may also be that after joining the search, such persons later on turn hostile. In any of these eventualities the evidence of the police officers who conducted the search cannot be disbelieved solely on the ground that no independent and respectable witness was examined to prove the search but if it is found that no attempt was even made by the concerned police officer to join with him some persons of the locality who were admittedly available to witness the recovery, it would affect the weight of evidence of the Police Officer, though not its admissibility.

4. D.V. Shanmugham v. State of A.P., AIR 1997 SC 2583 

There were several other people who witnessed the occurrence and they are not the residents of that locality. If such independent witnesses were available and yet were not examined by the prosecution and only those persons who are related to the deceased were examined then in such a situation the prosecution case has to be scrutinised with more care and caution.

5. Pawan Kumar v. Delhi Administration, 1989 Cri.LJ 127

At the time of the arrest and recovery of the knife, there was a lot of rush of public at the bus stop. It hardly stands to reason that at a place like a bus stop, there would be no person present at a crucial time like 7.30 pm when there is a lot of rush of commuters for boarding the buses to their respective destinations. Admittedly, there is no impediment in believing the version of the police officials but for that the prosecution has to lay a good foundation. At least one of them should have deposed that they tried to contact the public witnesses or that they refused to join the investigation. Here is a case where no effort was made to join any public witness even though number of them were present. No plausible from the side of the prosecution is forthcoming for not joining the Independent witnesses in case of a serious nature. It may be that there is an apathy on the part of the general public to associate themselves with the police raids or the recoveries but that apart, at least the IO should have made an earnest effort to join the independent witnesses. No attempt in this direction appears to have been made and this, by itself, is a circumstance throwing doubt on the arrest or the recovery of the knife from the person of the accused.

6. Sadhu Singh Vs. State of Haryana" 2000 (2) CC Cases HC 73

The Court took note of the fact that public witnesses were not joined in investigation to acquit the accused.

7. Massa Singh Vs. State of Punjab, 2000 (2) C.C. Cases HC 11

Conviction was set aside on the ground that it was obligatory on the part of investigating officer to take assistance of independent witnesses to lend authenticity to the investigation conducted by him. The recovery has been effected from a public place. The Investigating Officer could have taken the trouble to associate an independent witness to get the attestation of such independent witness regarding the authenticity of the investigation conducted by him. This aspect of the case has not been properly appreciated by the Court below.

8. Chanan Singh v. State, 1986 Crl. Rev. No.720 (P&H) 94

It was obligatory on the part of the police to join independent witnesses and the statement of official witness that witnesses refused to join investigation was rejected as an afterthought.

9. Gurbel Singh v. State of Punjab, 1991 Crl. Rev. No.504 (P&H)

Non-joining of independent witnesses is fatal to the prosecution case and accused is entitled to benefit of doubt.

10. Dhanpat Vs. State of Punjab" 2000 (1) CC Cases HC 52

Non-joining of independent witnesses is fatal to the prosecution case and accused is entitled to benefit of doubt.

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