Hostile Witnesses: A Curse to Criminal Justice System

  • Dastagir Rajekhan Pathan
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  • Dastagir Rajekhan Pathan

    Judicial Officer and Researcher in India

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India adopted adversarial system being a common law country for dispensing its criminal justice system. In adversarial system, the investigation is conducted by Police and other investigating agents, and relying on the said investigation, the trial is conducted against the accused. The important factor or the heart of the trial is the witness, the investigating officer records the statements of witnesses and as the prosecution has to prove the guilt of accused on the strength of the statements of witnesses, and relying on the deposition of witnesses, the Judge concludes the trial in acquittal or conviction of accused. During the entire trial, the accused is presumed to be innocent. This concept of innocence is premised from the doctrine of “Ten criminals may go unpunished, but one innocent person should not be convicted”. In recent days, the accused along with this doctrine, are benefitting from the hostility of witnesses. The witnesses are frequently resiling from their statements made during investigation without any fear or action. Judges cannot take any action as the statements are not signed by the witnesses and are recorded by the Police. There is a huge cry about the acquittal of accused and low conviction rate against accused, but the society is totally unaware about the factor of hostile witnesses. In several cases the accused have been acquitted as the material witnesses turned hostile and there is nothing on record to punish the accused. In adversarial system, the statements are not recorded by the Judges and the statements are not signed by the witnesses, therefore, the accused gets the benefit of Hostility of witnesses. To curb these menace, strict laws for recording the statements of witnesses and investigation of crime have to be introduced and existing laws have to be reformed.


Research Paper


International Journal of Legal Science and Innovation, Volume 4, Issue 6, Page 13 - 19


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