Section 302 IPC.= what is the difference between a related witness and an interested witness?�. The plea of “interested witness”, “related witness” has been succinctly explained by this Court that “related” is not equivalent to “interested”. The witness may be called “interested” only when he or she derives some benefit from the result of a litigation in the decree in a civil case, or in seeing an accused person punished. In this case at hand PW 1 and 5 were not only related witness, but also �interested witness� as they had pecuniary interest in getting the accused petitioner punished. ; whether the Courts below exercised the judicial discretion in evaluating the evidence of PW1 and PW5 while convicting the accused. It may be noted that there is nothing on record to support the version of PWs 1 & 5 that on earlier occasions also and particularly on the date of incident, the accused quarreled with his grandmother demanding money and to settle the house in his favor. Further, it is on record that when the deceased was brought to the hospital, in the Accident Register, it was written as �history of fall�. According to the prosecution�s case, blood came out from the mouth and nose of the deceased, but there appears no seizure of bloodstained clothes of the deceased and chemical analysis. Thus, the inconsistent evidence by the alleged eyewitnesses as well as investigation agency would cause dent to the edifice on which the prosecution case is 14 built, and it adversely affects the substratum of the prosecution case. 20. We further find, to a certain extent, material infirmities, irregularities and contradictions in the prosecution case as also in the evidence of prosecution witnesses including the deposition of PWs 1 & 5, who are material witnesses. PW 1 in his cross examination categorically stated that his wife (PW 5) has filed a suit for partition against the accused and his family members whereas PW 5 in her cross examination denied the same. Likewise, there are contradictory statements of witnesses, primarily to the aspect of happening of incident, taking the victim to the hospital, the presence of PW1 at the time of alleged incident, detaining the accused from bus stand or from his mother-in-law�s house, recovery of material objects from the possession of accused and lodging of complaint by PW1 etc, and the whole story appears to be an utterly incredible one. More so, there was no explanation forthcoming from the prosecution side on the questions raised by the defense that soon after reaching the ABC hospital with victim, how can the PWs 1 & 5 directly approach Dr. Mohammed Ghouse Khan (PW8) 15 without going to Emergency Ward and why the Doctors at ABC hospital did not inform police when it was a medico legal case. Both the Courts below have simply noted that the variations and contradictory statements are not material in proving the guilt of the accused. We feel that the reasoning given by the Courts below is ex facie illegal. – we are of the view that there exists reasonable doubt in this case as the case of prosecution is un-supported by independent witnesses, ridden with contradictions, good motive for false prosecution and filled with suspicious circumstances. Further we are of the considered opinion that there is not only insufficiency of evidence but also lack of credibility on the trustworthiness of PWs 1 & 5 which culminated 16 into disproving the prosecution case and alleged guilt of the accused. The prosecution has, therefore, failed to establish the guilt of the accused-appellant beyond reasonable doubt by adducing cogent evidence. We are satisfied that the Courts below completely misdirected themselves and the conviction imposed upon the accused by the trial Court and confirmed by the High Court suffers from patent error of law and perversity of approach and deserves to be set aside.

1
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 381 OF 2018
ARISING OUT OF
SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRL) NO. 9297 OF 2016
SUDHAKAR @ SUDHARASAN � APPELLANT
VERSUS
STATE REP. BY THE INSPECTOR OF POLICE, � RESPONDENT
SRIRANGAM POLICE STATION, TRICHY,
TAMIL NADU
JUDGMENT
N.V. RAMANA, J.
1. Leave granted.
2. This appeal has been preferred against the judgment
dated 23 rd
January, 2015 passed by the Madras High Court, Bench
at Madurai in Criminal Appeal (MD) No. 298 of 2013 whereby the
High Court concurred with the judgment of the trial court and
dismissed the appeal preferred by the appellant�accused against
his conviction under Section 302 IPC.

2
3. Facts of the case in brief, as advanced by the
prosecution, are that the appellant herein is a habitual drunkard
and used to live opposite to his grandmother�s house and always
indulged in quarreling with her demanding money. The incident has
taken place on 17 th
January, 2013 at about 6.30 p.m. The appellant
was found strangulating the neck of his grandmother, namely,
Mariyayee (deceased) with his hands. One Jayaraj�PW1 (son-in-law
of the deceased), who was sleeping in the adjoining room, upon
hearing the screams of the deceased, rushed to her and witnessed
the crime being committed by the accused on his grandmother. The
appellant then took surukupai (money bag) from the possession of
the deceased and fled away from the spot.
4. Jayaraj�(PW 1) then hired an auto and took his
mother-in-law to ABC hospital while informing about the incident to
his wife Maruthayee (PW5) over phone, PW5 in turn also reached
the hospital. The patient was admitted in the hospital at 7.30 p.m.
and Dr. Mohammed Ghouse Khan (PW8) examined her and found
that she was conscious but restless. However, Mariyayee had
passed away at 7.55 p.m. Jayaraj (PW 1) lodged complaint at

3
Srirangam Police Station at about 11.30 p.m. and basing on the
same, Crime No. 22 of 2013 was registered against the appellant.
PW15�Inspector of Police (Balusamy) sent the FIR (Ext.P12) to
Court and inspected the place of occurrence. Subsequently, other
formalities such as preparation of observation mahazar (Ext. P2),
drawing of rough sketch (Ext. P13), holding of inquest were carried
on and the body of the deceased was sent for postmortem.
Meanwhile, the accused�appellant was taken into custody and
after recording his confessional statement, police recovered
surukupai (money bag) from his possession (M.O. 1).
5. Postmortem on the dead body of deceased Mariyayee was
conducted by Dr. RVS Renuga Devi (PW 9) who found linear
abrasions of varying lengths and contusion on the front of neck,
fracture of thyroid cartilage and tracheal rings, bruising of anterior
chest wall, fracture of left collar bone and manubrium stemi
transversely at the level of 4 th
rib attachment with surrounding area
bruising. Doctor expressed her opinion that the deceased appears
to have died of compression of neck and chest wound.

4
6. The appellant�accused denied the charge of committing
the offence and claimed to be tried. In order to bring home the guilt
of the accused, prosecution has examined as many as 15 witnesses
and marked 16 exhibits. While so, the accused in his defence
examined his mother-in-law, Mala as DW1 and marked no
documents. There were however two material objects, one is the
surukupai (money bag) and the other is an amount of Rs.140/-,
both have allegedly been recovered from the possession of the
accused.
7. The trial court relying upon the evidences of prosecution
witnesses, particularly PWs 1 and 5, came to the conclusion that
often the accused used to quarrel with the deceased for fulfilling his
demands of money and had the motive to commit the offence. In
pursuance thereof, the accused came to the house of the deceased
and strangulated her neck and then pushed her down, hence the
deceased suffered asphyxia and injuries on her chest wall and ribs.
It further held that medical evidence on record clearly establishes
that the deceased had died due to compression of neck and chest
wounds. Therefore, the trial Court held that the trivial

5
contradictions in the evidence of the witnesses will not affect the
prosecution case and the appellant�accused was guilty of the
offence of murder. The trial Court accordingly convicted the
accused under Section 302, IPC and sentenced him to undergo life
imprisonment and to pay a fine of Rs.1,000/-, in default, to further
suffer rigorous imprisonment for a period of six months.
8. The aggrieved appellant approached the High Court in
appeal which came to be dismissed with the observation that the
conviction and sentence imposed by the learned trial judge is in
consonance with the penal provisions and does not suffer from any
infirmity. Hence, the accused is before us by way of this appeal.
9. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and
perused the material on record.
10. Learned counsel appearing for the accused�appellant
emphatically contended that the courts below have erred in
convicting the appellant even though prosecution case was full of
material irregularities and inconsistent depositions by the

6
witnesses. The counsel pointed out that the Courts below
committed manifest error while disbelieving the defence of alibi of
the appellant that at the relevant time, the accused was not there at
his grandmother�s house but he was in his mother-in-law�s house
and police took him for enquiry from there on 17.1.2013 at 11 pm.
The counsel submitted that the prosecution has not successfully
established the motive part also. But the Courts below laid basis on
exaggerated versions of prosecution witnesses and convicted the
appellant. All the prosecution witnesses, particularly PW 1 and PW
5, are interested witnesses as they had developed grudge on the
family of the appellant in connection with sharing of properties and
they want to get rid of him as they intend to grab the property of
appellant. With that view in mind, PWs 1 and 5 implicated the
accused in the offence which would disentitle him to inherit the
joint family property.
11. It was further argued that there was no independent
witness to the alleged crime and there was no satisfactory
explanation for the delay in lodging complaint under Ext. P.1 and
the delay in FIR reaching to the Judicial Magistrate. PWs 2, 3, 4

7
who were said to be the eyewitnesses, did not support the case of
prosecution. It is also contended by the learned counsel that it was
evidently represented by PW5�daughter of the deceased at the
hospital that her mother (deceased) had fallen down in the house
and therefore she was suffering from breathlessness, the said
statement is duly authenticated with the Accident Register (Ext. P3)
where it is mentioned as �history of fall�. But later on before Court,
PW5 denied of having said so and improved her statement thereby
implicating the appellant in the crime. More stress has been laid on
the aspect that as per postmortem report, on the body of the
deceased, there were fractures over the rib and left collar bone as
well as over manuburium sterni, which does not support the case of
strangulation but supports the case of fall as stated by PW5 to the
Doctor. Concluding his arguments, learned counsel submitted that
despite all the discrepancies in the prosecution case, the Courts
below went ahead and convicted the appellant and the judgment
deserves to be set aside by this Court.
12. While advancing his arguments, learned counsel
appearing for the State submitted that no case is made out by the

8
appellant seeking interference of this Court while both the Courts
below concurrently found him guilty. According to him, the
accused, being a habitual drunkard, often used to quarrel with his
grandmother (deceased) for money and for transfer of property. On
the day of incident also, the accused picked up a quarrel with the
deceased at about 11 am and PW1 sent him away peacefully. But in
the evening, while PW1 was asleep in the house, the accused again
entered and committed the offence. The trial Court and High Court
had rightly relied upon the consistent and categorical evidence of
PW1, who happened to be the eyewitness to the incident, coupled
with the corroboration of medical evidence, and by way of a
reasoned order, convicted the accused. The recovery of surukupai
(money bag) from the possession of the accused substantiates the
commission of crime and the case of the prosecution. Though the
accused tried to put forward the defence of alibi through DW1, the
defence could not succeed in its effort and they did not put a single
query or suggestion to the Investigating Officer in their endeavor to
ascertain that the accused was picked up by the police from the
house of DW1 and to falsify the prosecution case that the accused
was arrested from the bus stand.

9
13. On a careful consideration of the matter in the light of
submissions made on either side and after perusing the material
available on record, the issue that falls for consideration is �whether
both the Courts below were right in convicting the accused for the
offence punishable under Section 302, IPC.�
14. The whole basis for the Courts below to convict the
accused appears to be the version of the prosecution that the
accused was arrested on 18.1. 2013 at about 11 a.m. at bus stand,
in presence of PWs 11 and 12, and brushed aside the plea of
alibi presented by the accused with due support by the evidence
of DW1. It is worthwhile to note that both of these witnesses (PWs
11 & 12) in their examination-in-chief denied the prosecution story
about their presence at the time of arrest and seizure of material
objects from the possession of the accused and they turned hostile.
This fact casts serious doubts on the veracity of prosecution story
about the arrest of the accused.

10
15. Admittedly, at the time of alleged incidence, PW 5 (wife of
PW1) and PW 6 (son of PWs 1 & 5) were not present near the alleged
scene of offence. As regards the evidences of independent witnesses
(PWs 2, 3 and 4), who were residents of the same street as that of
the deceased and who were examined as ocular witnesses, PW 2
(tenant of PW 5) turned hostile and did not support the prosecution
case. He deposed that on 17.1.2013 at 7 pm when he found some
crowd in front of the house of deceased he rushed there and found
the deceased in unconscious condition. Then, he along with PWs 3
and 4 took the deceased to Srirangam Government Hospital and
informed the same to PWs 1 & 5, they asked them to bring the
deceased to ABC Hospital where PWs 1 & 5 joined them later on. In
his cross examination, he stated that PW 1 was not present in
Srirangam on the date of incident. PWs 3 and 4 also turned hostile
and similar statements were made by them also. Another shortfall
in the prosecution case is that PW1 deposed that he gave oral
complaint to police, but a contrary statement was put forth by
PW15�I.O. stating that he got a written complaint from PW1.

11
16. From the above stated facts, it emerges that the entire
prosecution case rests on the evidences of PWs 1 and 5 who are
closely related to the accused–appellant. The accused is none other
than the son of PW 5�s brother and PW 1 is the husband of PW5
and PW6 is the son of PWs 1 & 5. Clearly, the relations between the
accused�appellant and PWs 1 & 5 were strained over property
issues and they were in inimical terms. Apparently, there was also a
civil suit pending between them for partition of properties.
17. It would be appropriate to have a look at the legal
position with regard to the evidence of related and interested
witnesses. In Sarwan Singh v. State of Punjab, (1976 (4) SCC
369) , para 10 , this Court observed thus:
��.. The evidence of an interested witness does not suffer
from any infirmity as such, but the Courts require as a
rule of prudence, not as a rule of law, that the evidence of
such witnesses should be scrutinised with a little care.
Once that approach is made and the Court is satisfied that
the evidence of interested witnesses have a ring of truth
such evidence could be relied upon even without
corroboration.�

12
It is settled law that there cannot be any hard and fast rule
that the evidence of interested witness cannot be taken into
consideration and they cannot be termed as witnesses. But, the
only burden that would be cast upon the Courts in those cases is
that the Courts have to be cautious while evaluating the evidence to
exclude the possibility of false implication. Relationship can never
be a factor to affect the credibility of the witness as it is always not
possible to get an independent witness.
18. Then, next comes the question �what is the difference
between a related witness and an interested witness?�. The plea of
“interested witness”, “related witness” has been succinctly explained
by this Court that “related” is not equivalent to “interested”. The
witness may be called “interested” only when he or she derives some
benefit from the result of a litigation in the decree in a civil case, or
in seeing an accused person punished. In this case at hand PW 1
and 5 were not only related witness, but also �interested witness� as
they had pecuniary interest in getting the accused petitioner
punished. [ refer State of U.P. v. Kishanpal and Ors. , (2008) 16
SCC 73]. As the prosecution has relied upon the evidence of

13
interested witnesses, it would be prudent in the facts and
circumstances of this case to be cautious while analyzing such
evidence. It may be noted that other than these witnesses, there are
no independent witnesses available to support the case of the
prosecution.
19. Now, it would be appropriate to consider whether the
Courts below exercised the judicial discretion in evaluating the
evidence of PW1 and PW5 while convicting the accused. It may be
noted that there is nothing on record to support the version of PWs
1 & 5 that on earlier occasions also and particularly on the date of
incident, the accused quarreled with his grandmother demanding
money and to settle the house in his favor. Further, it is on record
that when the deceased was brought to the hospital, in the Accident
Register, it was written as �history of fall�. According to the
prosecution�s case, blood came out from the mouth and nose of the
deceased, but there appears no seizure of bloodstained clothes of
the deceased and chemical analysis. Thus, the inconsistent
evidence by the alleged eyewitnesses as well as investigation agency
would cause dent to the edifice on which the prosecution case is

14
built, and it adversely affects the substratum of the prosecution
case.
20. We further find, to a certain extent, material infirmities,
irregularities and contradictions in the prosecution case as also in
the evidence of prosecution witnesses including the deposition of
PWs 1 & 5, who are material witnesses. PW 1 in his cross
examination categorically stated that his wife (PW 5) has filed a suit
for partition against the accused and his family members whereas
PW 5 in her cross examination denied the same. Likewise, there are
contradictory statements of witnesses, primarily to the aspect of
happening of incident, taking the victim to the hospital, the
presence of PW1 at the time of alleged incident, detaining the
accused from bus stand or from his mother-in-law�s house, recovery
of material objects from the possession of accused and lodging of
complaint by PW1 etc, and the whole story appears to be an utterly
incredible one. More so, there was no explanation forthcoming from
the prosecution side on the questions raised by the defense that
soon after reaching the ABC hospital with victim, how can the PWs
1 & 5 directly approach Dr. Mohammed Ghouse Khan (PW8)

15
without going to Emergency Ward and why the Doctors at ABC
hospital did not inform police when it was a medico legal case. Both
the Courts below have simply noted that the variations and
contradictory statements are not material in proving the guilt of the
accused. We feel that the reasoning given by the Courts below is
ex facie illegal.
21. This Court in Latesh V. State of Maharastra [Criminal
Appeal No. 1301 of 2015, decided on January 30, 2018] has
explained that the reasonable doubt in a lucid manner as a mean
between excessive caution and excessive indifference to a doubt.
Moreover, it has been explained that reasonable doubt should be a
practical one and not an illusory hypothesis.
22. In view of the above discussion, we are of the view that
there exists reasonable doubt in this case as the case of prosecution
is un-supported by independent witnesses, ridden with
contradictions, good motive for false prosecution and filled with
suspicious circumstances. Further we are of the considered opinion
that there is not only insufficiency of evidence but also lack of
credibility on the trustworthiness of PWs 1 & 5 which culminated

16
into disproving the prosecution case and alleged guilt of the
accused. The prosecution has, therefore, failed to establish the guilt
of the accused-appellant beyond reasonable doubt by adducing
cogent evidence. We are satisfied that the Courts below completely
misdirected themselves and the conviction imposed upon the
accused by the trial Court and confirmed by the High Court suffers
from patent error of law and perversity of approach and deserves to
be set aside.
23. Resultantly, the appeal is allowed and the impugned
judgment passed by the High Court is set aside. The appellant is
stated to be in jail. He shall be set free forthwith unless required in
any other case. Pending applications, if any, shall also stand
disposed of.
���…………………..J.
(N.V. RAMANA)
………………………….J.
(S. ABDUL NAZEER)
New Delhi,
March 12, 2018.

17
ITEM NO.1502 COURT NO.9 SECTION II-C
S U P R E M E C O U R T O F I N D I A
RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS
Criminal Appeal No.381 of 2018 @ Petition(s) for Special Leave to
Appeal (Crl.) No(s). 9297/2016
SUDHAKAR @ SUDHARASAN Petitioner(s)
VERSUS
STATE REP. BY TEH INSPECTOR OF POLICE, Respondent(s)
SRIRANGAM POLICE STATION, TRICHY, TAMIL NADU
([HEARD BY : HON. N.V. RAMANA AND HON. S. ABDUL NAZEER, JJ.])
Date : 12-03-2018 This matter was called on for pronouncement of
judgment today.
For Petitioner(s)
Mr. Thomas Franklim Caesar, Adv.
Ms. M. Venmani, Adv.
Mr. S. Sethumahendran, Adv.
Mr. P. Sandanadorai, Advk.
Mr. S. Gowthaman, AOR
For Respondent(s)
Mr. M. Yogesh Kanna, AOR
Ms. Sujatha Bayadhi, Adv.
Hon’ble Mr. Justice N.V. Ramana pronounced the judgment of the
Bench comprising His Lordship and Hon’ble Mr. Justice S. Abdul Nazeer.
Leave granted.
The appeal is allowed and the impugned judgment passed by the
High Court is set aside. The appellant is stated to be in jail. He
shall be set free forthwith unless required in any other case.
(SUKHBIR PAUL KAUR) (RENUKA SADANA)
AR CUM PS ASST.REGISTRAR
(Signed reportable judgment is placed on the file)