Delay in Lodging FIR can be Condoned if Witness has no Motive to Falsely Implicate Accused- SC


November 27, 2018

Case name: Palani v. State of Tamil Nadu

In the instant case, the Appellant has challenged the judgment passed by High Court of Madras, whereby the Court dismissed the appeal, confirming his conviction under Section 302 of IPC.

The High Court affirmed the conviction of the appellant holding that the testimony of eye-witness (PW-1) was reliable and the same was corroborated by medical evidence. The High Court also rejected the appellant’s plea that the delay in registration of FIR was not fatal to the prosecution case.

In appeal before the Supreme Court, the Appellant contended that there was a delay of two and half hours in lodging the complaint and there was also delay in dispatching the FIR to Judicial Magistrate.

Bench’s Verdict

The Two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court dismissed the Appeal and made the following observations in the case:

  • The Supreme Court in the case also stressed on the difference between medical and ocular evidence and opined that it is well-settled that oral evidence has to get primacy and the medical evidence is basically opinionative and that the medical evidence states that the injury could have been caused in the manner alleged and nothing more.
  • Testimony of Eye Witness- With reference to the testimony of eye witness, the Apex Court held that same cannot be thrown out on the ground of inconsistency[1].
  • The Court further was of the view that when the opinion given is not inconsistent with the probability of the case, the court cannot discard the credible direct evidence otherwise the administration of justice is to depend on the opinionative evidence of medical expert. The medical jurisprudence is not an exact science with precision; but merely opinionative.
  • Delay in Lodging FIR- The Court noted that the delay in setting the law into motion by lodging the complaint is normally viewed by the courts in suspicion because there is possibility of concoction of evidence against the accused. In such cases, it becomes necessary for the prosecution to satisfactorily explain the delay in registration of FIR. But there may be cases where the delay in registration of FIR is inevitable and the same has to be considered. Even a long delay can be condoned if the witness has no motive for falsely implicating the accused.

In view of the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court noted that PW-1 had no motive to falsely implicate the accused and thus the delay of two and half hours in lodging the complaint and registration of FIR and the delay in receipt of the FIR by the Magistrate was rightly held as not fatal to the prosecution case.

The entire case can be accessed here.

[1] State of Haryana v. Bhagirath and others (1999) 5 SCC 96