The three judge bench of Supreme Court consisting of Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice B.R. Gavai in the case of Surinder Kumar V. State of Punjab on 6th January 2020 stated that Evidence of the official cannot be mistrusted merely on the account of their official status and non-examination of an Independent witness would not lead to the conclusion that the accused is falsely implicated.

The present case is the appeal from the Punjab and Haryana High Court which has upheld the decision given by the Special Judge, Ferozepur. The accused i.e Surinder Kumar was found with 1 kg 750 grams of opium and was convicted under section 18 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act,1985). The Accused was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of 10 years and to pay a fine of Rs.1,00,000/-(Rupees One Lakh) in default of payment of the same, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for another period of one year. One of the contention that was raised by the counsel for the accused was that, though Independent witnesses were available, they were not examined and the conviction was solely based on the statements given by the official witnesses.

In this regard, the counsel for the Respondent-state relied on the judgement given in the case of Jarnail Singh v. State of Punjab which stated that “merely because prosecution did not examine any independent witness, would not necessarily lead to conclusion that accused was falsely implicated. The evidence of official witnesses cannot be distrusted and disbelieved, merely on account of their official status.” Also, in the case of State, Govt. of NCT of Delhi v. Sunil & Anr. it was held that “It is an archaic notion that actions of the Police Officer, should be approached with initial distrust. It is time now to start placing at least initial trust on the actions and the documents made by the Police. At any rate, the Courts cannot start with the presumption that the police records are untrustworthy. As a presumption of law, the presumption would be the other way round. The official acts of the Police have been regularly performed is a wise principle of presumption and recognized even by the Legislature”.

Therefore, the Supreme Court in the present case stated that by the evidence i.e oral and documentary placed before them, the prosecution has proved the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt and has upheld the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and by the Special Judge, Ferozepur. The Supreme Court also stated that the bail of the accused should be cancelled and he should be taken into custody to serve his remaining sentence.

Link to the judgment: Surinder Kumar v. State of Punjab

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