Evidence of a co-accused can be relied upon as long as it is trustworthy, the Supreme Court has held, upholding the conviction of six persons for the murder of Tapan Chakraborthy, a DYFI(Democratic Youth Federation) activist in Tripura.
A bench of justices P Sathasivam and H L Gokhale said that although evidence tendered by an approver cannot be relied upon on the same footing of a normal witness, yet, it is a valid piece of evidence under Section 307 and 308 of the Cr.PC.
"The evidence of an approver does not differ from the evidence of any other witness save in one particular aspect, namely, that the evidence of an accomplice is regarded ab initio as open to grave suspicion.
"If the suspicion which attaches to the evidence of an accomplice be not removed, that evidence should not be acted upon unless corroborated in some material particulars; but if the suspicion attaching to the accomplice’s evidence be removed, then that evidence may be acted upon even though uncorroborated, and the guilt of the accused may be established upon the evidence alone," Justice Sathasivam writing the judgement observed.
The convicted appellants Mrinal Das and another person had moved the apex court challenging the Gauhati High Court's decision to convict them after reversing the acquittal order passed by the trial court. The other convicted persons are Pradip Das, Somesh Das, Anil Das, Tapan Das and Gautam Das for the murder committed on August 31, 2000.