While rejecting an appeal by four people to challenge their convictions in a murder case, the Supreme Court said that a mere delay in recording eyewitness statements cannot lead to the rejection of their testimony. A judicial panel headed by Judge UU Lalit said the recorded material certainly demonstrates the fear created by the defendants.

The court, which includes Judge S. Ravindra Bhatt and Judge Bella M Trivedi: “It is true that there has been some delay in recording the statements of the eyewitnesses involved, but the mere fact of the delay cannot in itself lead to the rejection of their testimony.” The Supreme Court said that if witnesses were horrified and frightened and did not come forward for some time, the delay in recording their statements was clear enough.

In its October 7 order, the court said that nothing was recorded to indicate that during the break, the witnesses were in their normal endeavors. The High Court was considering the appeals of four accused to challenge the order of the Calcutta High Court dismissing their applications and confirming their guilt and the judgment recorded by Sessions Judge, Malda, under Sections 302 (Murder), and 120b (Criminal Conspiracy) of Reading Penal Code Indian with Section 27(3) of the Arms Act 1959.

The lawyer representing the appellants informed the Supreme Court of the testimony of two eyewitnesses and said that the delay in recording their statements respectively would be fatal to the prosecution’s case. He said that no explanation was given as to the reason for the delay in recording their statements, and apart from the testimonies of the two witnesses, there was nothing in the record that justified the appellants’ conviction.

On the other hand, the lawyer representing the state said that the terror unleashed by the accused was so great that the witnesses involved fled and that this was only done after taking appropriate measures by the investigation mechanism, including the arrest of the accused. That witnesses came forward.

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