Question: According to Section 114(b) of the Indian Evidence Act, the court may presume that an accomplice is unworthy of credit unless he is corroborated in material particulars. According to Section 133 of the same Act, an accomplice shall be a competent witness against an accused person, and a conviction is not illegal merely because it proceeds upon… Read More »

Question: According to Section 114(b) of the Indian Evidence Act, the court may presume that an accomplice is unworthy of credit unless he is corroborated in material particulars. According to Section 133 of the same Act, an accomplice shall be a competent witness against an accused person, and a conviction is not illegal merely because it proceeds upon the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice. Reconcile the above statements of law and quote cases. [HR.J.S. 1996, U.P.C.J. 2012,...

Question: According to Section 114(b) of the Indian Evidence Act, the court may presume that an accomplice is unworthy of credit unless he is corroborated in material particulars.

According to Section 133 of the same Act, an accomplice shall be a competent witness against an accused person, and a conviction is not illegal merely because it proceeds upon the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice. Reconcile the above statements of law and quote cases. [HR.J.S. 1996, U.P.C.J. 2012, U.P.H.J.S. 1998]

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [According to Section 114(b) of the Indian Evidence Act, the court may presume that an accomplice is unworthy of credit unless he is corroborated in material particulars. According to Section 133 of the same Act, an accomplice shall.. Reconcile the above statements of law and quote cases.]

Answer

Section 133 lays down a rule of law. But Sec. 114, illustration (b) lays down a rule of prudence. This rule of prudence has now come to be accepted as a rule of law by judicial legislation both in Indian and English law.

Section 133 Accomplice: “An accomplice shall be a competent witness against an accused person, and a conviction is not illegal merely because it proceeds upon the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice.”

Section 114 Illustration (b): “The court may presume that an accomplice is unworthy of credit unless he is corroborated in material particulars.”

However, Section 114 also gives two instances when this does not apply: A person of the highest character is tried for causing a man’s death by an act of negligence in arranging certain machinery. B, a person of equally good character, who also took part in the arrangement, describes precisely what was done, and admits and explains the common carelessness of A and himself.

The other instance is: A crime is committed by several persons, A, B, and C, three of the criminals, are captured on the spot and kept apart from each other. Each gives an account of the crime implicating D, and the accounts corroborate each other in such a manner as to render the previous concert highly improbable.

The word “may” in Section 114 (b) cannot be converted to “must”. The evidence of an accomplice can be made the basis for conviction without corroboration. Reading Sections 133 and 114 (b) together, the rule is that the necessity of corroboration is a matter of prudence except when it is safe to dispense with such corroboration.

There is no antithesis between Section 133 and Section 114, illustration (b), because the illustration only says that the court ‘may’ presume a certain state of affairs. It does not seek to raise a conclusive presumption. Section 133 is a clear authorization to the courts to convict on the corroborated testimony of an accomplice, but since such a witness, being criminal himself, may not always be trustworthy, the courts are guided by the illustration appended to Section 114 that if it is necessary the court should presume that he is unreliable unless his statements are supported or verified by some independent evidence [Dagdu v. State of Maharashtra (1977) 3 SCC 268].

The combined effect of Section 133 and 114:

The evidence of an accomplice is looked upon with suspicion because to protect himself he may be inclined to implicate the co-accused. It does not mean that the evidence of an accomplice can never be relied upon. Section 133 has to be read along with Section 114 (b). The rule of prudence requires that the evidence of an accomplice should ordinarily be corroborated by some other evidence.

Test for appreciation of evidence of an approver, corroboration in material particulars and qua each accused is essential. Corroborative evidence need not prove the offence against the accused. It is not necessary that there should be independent corroboration of every material circumstance. Corroborative evidence must be independent testimony connecting the accused with the crime. It can be direct or circumstantial. The sufficiency of corroboration depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case.

The Supreme Court has also observed that evidence of approver is amply corroborated by other evidence. An accomplice namely the guilty associate of crime is a competent witness. Section 133 lays down that conviction can be based on the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice and it is not illegal but the rule of guidance indicated in Section 114 (b) has resulted in settled practice to require corroboration of the evidence of an accomplice and which has now virtually assumed the force of law. The word ‘accomplice’ has not been defined by the Evidence Act and it is generally understood that an accomplice means a guilty associate or partner in crime.

To note, an accomplice by becoming an approver becomes a prosecution witness. An approver’s evidence has to satisfy double test:

  1. his evidence must be reliable;
  2. his evidence should be materially corroborated.

The combined effect of Sections 114 (b) and 133 is that conviction can be based upon the uncorroborated testimony of an approver. Section 114 (b) incorporates a rule of caution to which the courts should have regard.


Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-II
  3. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-III
  4. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-X
Updated On 2021-11-15T11:22:33+05:30
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