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Kerala High Court held that enmity cannot be a ground to discard Witness’ evidence

The High Court of Kerala dismissed the appeal of a person convicted of murder, rejecting the arguments of the counsel that the witness cannot be relied upon since there is personal enmity between the accused and the witness and that makes the evidence unreliable.

The facts of the case were that the accused’s wife left him to live with another relative of hers. She was having a sexual relationship with the relative. The wife and the relative were sleeping on the roof of their house when the accused came to the roof and killed the deceased with a hammer. Afterwards he ran away. The mother of the deceased as well as other relatives were present inside the house and came out once they realized something was wrong.

The wife as well as the relatives became witness against the accused. The Sessions Court had found the accused guilty. Appeal was therefore filed before the Kerala High Court. The Counsel for the accused objected to the witnesses and evidence for multiple discrepancies. The Counsel stated that the statement of wife should not be relied on since she had enmity towards the accused. The statement of another witness changed after the initial submission. Moreover, they argued that the roof was slanted so nobody could sleep there and a newlywed couple would not sleep in the open on the roof.

The Court rejected the arguments of the Counsel since the slant of roof was only slight and arguments of privacy for a newlywed couple was subjective and could not be a valid argument. On the issue of change in the statement of a witness, the Court rejected the claim. Stating that “But the question that emerges is whether such exaggeration or embellishment (if it is treated so) makes the evidence of PW2 unreliable. In our view, merely because of the reason that there is some exaggeration or embellishment in the deposition of the witness, from that stated to the police, cannot be a reason to discard the entire evidence unless it is so contradictory as to disprove the material aspects spoken of by the witness.”

The Court relied on State of U.P v Anil Singh for this conclusion. On the issue of the wife not being a reliable witness the court relying on the judgment in Mohabbat and others v State of M.P and Anil Rai v State of Bihar held that “It is a well settled position of law that, merely because, the witness is a close relative to the victim, evidence of such witness cannot be discarded, treating it as an interested version.

The matter was thereby dismissed.

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