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Credibility of Interested and Related Witness

This paper aims to deal with the issues related to credibility of a related and an interested witness. Often, questions are raised about the credibility of such witnesses and the evidentiary value of their testimonial. Such questions are usually based on the grounds of biasness and partisan.

However, that doesn't mean that testimonies by such witnesses will be false. The courts have held that it is the truthfulness of these testimonials that is taken into account by law, and not the relationship the witness might have with either party. The court should exercise care and caution to determine the admissibility of its testimonial, by relying only on the truth.

Introduction And Background
  • Who is a witness?
    In Madhuranatha V. State of Karnataka [1] The term witness' means someone who is capable of sharing information by way of deposing as regards relevant facts, via on oral statements or statement in writing, made or given in court or otherwise. A witness' is usually deemed to be independent unless, he springs from sources which are likely to be tainted and this usually means, the said witness, has cause to bear, such enmity, against the accused, so as to implicate him falsely.[2]

    Witnesses play an indispensable role in serving justice which rests on the principles of truth and unbiases. The conclusiveness and truthfulness of the testimony runs in favour of the witness as they are made under oath.[3] Therefore, witnesses play a pivotal role in the delivery of justice from the very point a criminal trial begins.

  • What is meant by credibility of a witness?
    A credible witness is competent to give evidence, and is worthy of belief.[4] However, as laid down in Gangadhar Behera and others vs. State of Orissa[5], certain criterion to determine the credibility of a witness has been established, which is as follows:
    • Witnesses' access to correct information;
    • Witnesses' motive behind hiding the truth, if any;
    • Whether witnesses agree in their testimony.[6]

  • Related Witness
    A related witness is someone having a relation with the prosecuted or victim party. For example, a husband giving testimony his wife's death can be regarded as testimony by a related witness.

  • Interested Witness
    An interested witness refers to someone having direct interest in the result of the litigation, expecting to gain some benefit out of it.

Credibility Of A Related Witness

The general presumption runs that a related witness would not falsely testify against an innocent person as they would prefer to see the real culprits getting punished as held in Jarnail Singh vs. State of Punjab.[7] However, testimony of such witnesses should be analysed with caution for its credibility.[8]

The law says that the testimony of a related witness cannot be discredited mechanically because [9]relationship of the witness cannot be a ground to determine the credibility of the testimony as laid down in Raju alias Balachandran vs. State of Tamil Nadu[10] and reiterated in A. Alagupandian vs. State of Tamil Nadu[11] In Balraje vs. State of Maharashtra[12] the Supreme Court held as follows:
If after careful analysis and scrutiny of their evidence, the version given by the witnesses appears to be clear, cogent and credible, there is no reason to discard the same.

Hence, it is the truthfulness of the statement that the law takes into account. The credibility of a related witness is not dependent upon its relationship with either party, and the court should exercise care and caution to determine the admissibility of its testimonial, by relying only on the truth.[13]

Section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act states:
No person who is or has been married, shall be competent to disclose any communication made to him during marriage by any person to whom he is or has been married; nor shall he be permitted to disclose any such communication, unless the person who made it or his representative-in-interest consents, except in suit� between married person is prosecuted for any crime committed against the other.[14]

In Bishan Das V. Crown[15]
It was held that:
the mere fact, that the evidence given by a wife against her husband was admitted in the Court of Session without any objection, being taken by or on behalf of the husband does not take away the bar created by Section 122 IEA. Related is not equivalent to interested. A mere relationship of the witness would be no ground to reject it. A close relative who is a natural witness to the circumstances of the case cannot be regarded as an interested witness.

In Bhagwan Swarup V. State of U.P [16] and State of U.P. V. Paras Nath Singh [17]and Swarn Singh V. State of Punjab[18] , the court held that:
The fact that the witnesses are related to each other is no criterion for disregarding their evidence. Relative should have no interest to falsely implicate the accused or protect the real culprit. There is no general rule that the evidence of the relations of the deceased, must be corroborated for securing the conviction of the offender. Each case depends upon its own facts and circumstances.

In Raja Gounder V. State of Tamil Nadu The Hon'ble court stated that under 302 IPC read with Sec 3 IEA in the murder case, where there were no independent witnesses. Conviction on basis of related witness was upheld, as the dispute was between brothers over a piece of land. The dispute existed in between the family. No independent witnesses were available. Incident witnessed by the wife of the deceased and her evidence is credible, as she would be the last person to involve appellants who are her brother in-law.

Credibility Of Evidence By An Interested Witness

The interested witness means a person who desires to falsely implicate the accused relative not necessarily interested witness.[19]:
In Takdir Samsuddin Sheikh V. State of Gujrat[20]
The meaning of the terms 'interested' postulates that the witness must have some direct interest in having the accused somehow or the other convicted for some other reasons. It is a settled position that the evidence of interested witness is highly unreliable and the some cannot be accepted with corroboration.

A close relative is usually a natural witness. He is not considered as an interested witness as he has not personal interest or material gain in becoming an interested witness[21]

In State of Haryana V. Shakuntala[22]
�The Hon'ble Court elaborated the term interested' witness as having some direct or 'interest' in the accused somehow or the other convicted due to animus or for some other oblique motive.�

It is an uncontested fact that the testimony of an interested witness lacks reliability and mandates corroboration for its acceptance. Furthermore, it is well settled that interested witness desires conviction of the accused [23], therefore, due caution in judicial approach is a must while taking such testimony into consideration as postulated in State of Haryana vs. Shakuntala.[24]

It is an established position that the testimony of an interested witness cannot be discredited owing to the ground of it being an evidence of partisan nature.[25] However, the courts are required to be guarded while scrutinizing such evidence which requires corroboration to a material extent. Here, the acceptance of evidence is dependent upon two factors viz., first, scrutiny[26] by the court and, second, caution while considering such evidences as hypothesized in Mano Dutt and Anr vs. State of U.P [27]and State of Haryana v. Shakuntla[28]

Interestedness of the witness does not require outright rejection of evidence, only necessities the deeper scrutiny.[29]

Further, question concerning the reliability and credibility of the testimony of an interested witness has been answered by the Supreme Court in Joginder Singh vs. State.[30] wherein it was held that mere relationship cannot be a reason to discredit the statements given by an interested witness provided it gets sufficient corroboration as was reiterated in State of Bihar vs. Shaukat Mian[31] as follows[32]:

Its credibility cannot be doubted merely because he was an interested witness. Evidence of interested witness shall have to be tested with caution. Moreover, an interested witness, who is a relative of the victim, would be the person who is keen to ensure that justice is done to the victim.

Every Related Witness Is Not An Interested Witness

Every witness, who is related to the deceased cannot be said to be an interested witness, who will depose falsely to implicate the accused. Statement of every related witness cannot as a matter of rule be rejected by the courts. [33] Evidence of close relatives cannot be excluded, solely on the ground, that they are interested witnesses. It is the duty of the court to scrutinize the evidence of such witnesses very carefully and if there is any doubt as regards their trustworthiness, the court may discard their evidence.

Ordinarily, a close relative would be the last person to screen the real culprit and falsely implicate an innocent person. Hence, the mere fact of relationship cannot be a ground for rejecting the testimony of the witness.[34]

Mere fact that witness is related to the deceased or did not state the incident in the same language or in a manner which is natural, in the opinion of the court does not affect in any way the credibility of the witness.[35]

Conclusion And Suggestions
Credibility of a witness is not affected by Relationship. When the statement of witness who are parties known to the affected party, is credible, reliable, trust worthy, admissible in accordance with the law and corroborated by other witnesses or documentary evidence of the prosecution, there would hardly be any reason for the court to reject such evidence. His statement is to be carefully scrutinized and appreciated before reaching a conclusion.

It is very important that the court maintains a positive judicial attitude towards victim justice, and while considering the credibility of a particular evidence or testimonial, the courts should exercise due care and caution and must only look for truth. Any kind of bias or presumptions must be avoided, and the courts should go into the depth of such matters.

  1. 2014 (2) Kant LJ 158; 2014(84) ACR C 329; AIR 2014 (SC) 394
  2. Witness in a Criminal Trial: Their Role and Efficacy, (February 15, 2020),
  3. Shaheen Bano, Credibility of Related and Interested Witnesses, LAW BHOOMI, (Mar 26, 2020),a%20relative%20of%20the%20victim.%E2%80%9D&text=The%20conclusiveness%20and%20truthfulness%20of,they%20are%20made%20under%20oath
  4. Credibility, Credible Witness, THE LECTRIC LAW LIBRARY, (last visited Oct 14, 2020)
  5. 2003 SCC (Cri) 32
  6. Law Relating to Witness: Historical Development, SHODHGANGA (Feb 15, 2020),
  7. (2009) 9 SCC 719
  8. Gangadhar Behra & Others Vs. State of Odisha, 2003 SCC (Cri) 32
  9. Shivani Trichnopoly Ravi Kanth, Appreciation of The Evidence of An Inimical Witness � Raju alias Balachandran v/s Tamil Nadu, Legal Services India, (Feb 15, 2020),
  10. AIR 2013 SC 983
  11. 2012(3) RCR (Criminal) 729 (SC)
  12. (2010) 6 SCC 673
  13. Waman and others vs. State of Maharashtra (2011) SCC 295)
  14. Section 122, Indian Evidence Act, 1872
  15. 27 PR. 1913(Cr); 1914 Cr. L.J 316
  16. AIR 1971 SC 429
  17. AIR 1973 SC 1093
  18. 1976 Cri. L.J 1757
  19. Sahabuddin V. State of Assam (2012) 13 SCC 213; 2013 Cri. L.J 1252.
  20. 2011 (4) RCR (Criminal) 840 (SC).
  21. Kartik Malhar V. State of Bihar 1996 (1) RCR (Cr) 308; Rakesh V. State of M.P (SC) 2011(4) RCR (Cri) 355; Mst Dalbir Kaur and Ors V. State of Punjab AIR 1947 SC 472 (Para13).
  22. 2012 (2) RCR (Cri) 845 (SC).
  23. Sahabuddin vs. State of Assam, 2013 (1) RCR (Cr) 817.
  24. 2012 (2) RCR (Cri) 845 (SC
  25. Ashok Kini, Witness Can Be Called Interested' Only When He/she Derives Some Benefit Seeing an Accused Person Punished: SC- 2019, Live Law, (February 15, 2020),
  26. Gutturthi Eswara Rao vs. State of A.P, 2005 Cri. L.J 1632 (AP)
  27. (2012) 4 SCC 79
  28. Supra Note 30
  29. Appreciation of Evidence in Criminal Cases with Special Reference To Interested Witness, Child Witness, Hearsay Witness, Hostile Witness and Injured Witness, (February 15, 2020), Title NO.37(As Per Workshop List title no37 pdf).pdf
  30. 2009 Cri. LJ 2805
  31. 2011 (6) RCR (Cri) 1967 Patna (DB)
  32. Supra Note 6.
  33. Nanwar Dubey & Ors V. State of U.P. 1996(2) RCC 779, CCJ 1996 (2) 168; Pema Tamang v/s State of Sikkim (Para 15) 2006 Cri. L.J 2999
  34. Mahendra Pal V. State AIR 1955 All 328
  35. Rokad Singh V .State of M.P; 1994 Cri. L.J 494 (MP)

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