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What are the Laws as to Accomplice Evidence under Section 133 of Indian Evidence Act?

2. However, the Court may presume that an accomplice is unworthy of credit, unless he is corroborated in material particulars. [S. 114, Illustration. (b)]

Who Is An Accomplice?

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An accomplice is a person who has concurred in the commission of an offence. The term ‘accomplice’ signifies a guilty associate in a crime or a partner in a crime who makes admission of facts showing that he had a conscious hand in the offence. The term ‘accomplice’ includes both the principals and the abettors.

Who is not an accomplice?

The following classes of persons are not accomplices:

(1) When a person, under threat of death or other form of pressure which he is unable to resist, commits a crime along with others, he is not a willing participant in it, but a victim of such circumstances. (Srinivas Mall v. Emperor, (1977) 49 Bom. L.R. 688, P.C.)

(2) So also, a person who merely witnesses a crime, and does not give information of it to any one else out of fear, is not an accomplice.

(3) Detectives, paid informers and trap witnesses are not accomplices. As the learned author Wigmore observes, when the witness has made himself an agent for the prosecution before associating with the wrongdoers, or before the actual perpetration of the offence, he is not an accomplice.

However, it must be noted that if such a person or spy or informer, in the exuberance of his enthusiasm, actually instigates others to commit a crime, even if it be for detection of an offence or to get the credit of having him arrested, he is an abettor under the Penal Law, and his position cannot be anything other than that of an accomplice. (R. v. Dinkar, 55 All. 654).

The Supreme Court has severely condemned, in Siv Bahadur v. State, (1934 S.C. 325), the action of the Police authorities in supplying the bribed money to the giver in order to entrap the accused and secure the commission of the offence. But in the same case, the Supreme Court has observed that the evidence of witnesses who were not willing parties to the giving of the bribe, but were only actuated by the motive of trapping the accused, cannot be treated as that of accomplices.

Problem:

A, a police officer, lays a trap and receives gratification with the intention of bringing to book  who had offered him the gratification. Can A be called an accomplice? Give reasons.

Ans:

A cannot be called an accomplice, as his object was not to concur in the commission of an offence with the accused. He is not a guilty associate. He is an agent for the prosecution before associating himself with the wrongdoer. Therefore, it cannot be said that A is an accomplice.

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