Question: How many witnesses are required to prove a criminal case beyond all reasonable doubts? Refer to the relevant provision, if any, under the Indian Evidence Act in this regard. Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [How many witnesses are required to prove a criminal case beyond all reasonable doubts? Refer to the… Read More »

Question: How many witnesses are required to prove a criminal case beyond all reasonable doubts? Refer to the relevant provision, if any, under the Indian Evidence Act in this regard. Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [How many witnesses are required to prove a criminal case beyond all reasonable doubts? Refer to the relevant provision, if any, under the Indian Evidence Act in this regard.] Answer Section 134 of the Indian Evidence Act talks about the number...

Question: How many witnesses are required to prove a criminal case beyond all reasonable doubts? Refer to the relevant provision, if any, under the Indian Evidence Act in this regard.

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [How many witnesses are required to prove a criminal case beyond all reasonable doubts? Refer to the relevant provision, if any, under the Indian Evidence Act in this regard.]

Answer

Section 134 of the Indian Evidence Act talks about the number of witnesses. It states: “No particular number of witnesses shall, in any case, be required for the proof of any fact.” i.e. quantity of witnesses not required.

A plurality of witnesses is a rule of prudence and not an inflexible requirement of the evidence has to be weighed not counted. Acceptability of evidence is material not the number of witnesses. Section 134 does not require any particular number of witnesses to prove any fact. It is not the quantity but the quality of evidence that matters.

In Amar Singh v. Balwinder Singh, [AIR 2003 SC 1164] Supreme Court held that where the prosecution has not examined all the injured witnesses but only three of the injured witnesses were examined, it would not lead to an inference that the prosecution was not correct.

Testimony of a Single witness:

As a general rule, a court can and may act on the testimony of a single witness, though uncorroborated. One credible witness outweighs the testimony of a number of other witnesses of indifferent character. A conviction can be based on the testimony of a solitary witness if he is wholly reliable. The Court can act on the sole testimony of a single witness provided he is wholly reliable. It is not the number, the quantity but the quality that is material.

In Ganpat Ram v. State of Rajasthan [1995 CriLJ 1466] case, the court stated that when the testimony of the sole eye witness is reliable, trustworthy and cogent, the evidence cannot be rejected on the grounds of some minor omissions considering the fact the examination of the evidence took place years after the occurrence of the incident. In cases, where it is not practically possible to present more than one witness before the court, the court should rely on the testimony of the sole witness if it satisfies the court.

Unless corroboration is insisted upon by statute, courts should not insist on corroboration except in cases where the nature of the testimony of the witness itself requires as a rule of prudence, that corroboration should be insisted upon, for example, in the case of a child witness, or of a witness whose evidence is that of an accomplice or of an analogous character

In Binay Kumar and others v. State of Bihar, [AIR 1997 SC 321] the Supreme Court held that there is no rule of evidence that no conviction can be based unless a certain minimum number of witnesses has identified a particular accused as a member of unlawful assembly. It is axiomatic (self-proved) that evidence is not to be counted but only be weighed and it is not the number of witnesses but the quality of witnesses that matters. Even the testimony of one single witness, if wholly reliable, is sufficient to establish the identity of the accused as a member of an unlawful assembly.

The Supreme Court has in a number of cases sustained convictions on the basis of the testimony of a sole witness. In one of them Mohan Lai v. State, (1978) Cr. L.J. 1832, dealing with the argument that conviction on the evidence of a single witness was not safe, the court remarked:

“There is no computerised rule. Nor are judges computers. It must always depend on the circumstances of each case and the quality of the evidence of the single witness. In this case, we find there is abundant evidence direct and circumstantial to prove the guilt of the appellants.

The trial court called the appellants “dare-devils of the locality”. No one was willing to come forward to depose against them. In such circumstances, as always, the court has to separate the grain from the chaff.”

Thus, Section 134 makes a categorical declaration that “no particular number of witnesses shall, in any case, be required for the proof of any fact.” How many witnesses are necessary for the proof of a fact is wholly left to the judgment of the court and no judgment can be declared to be unfounded only because there was only one witness.


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 2021-11-13T07:51:21+05:30
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