Competency of an Accomplice as a Witness

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Accomplice Witness

An accomplice means a person who has taken part in the commission of a crime. In the case of R.K Dalmia v. Delhi Administration that “an accomplice is a person who participates in the commission of the actual crime charged against an accused. He is to be a particeps criminis.” Accomplice evidence might seem untrustworthy as accomplices are usually always interested and infamous witnesses but their evidence is admitted owing to necessity as it is often impossible without having recourse to such evidence to bring the principal offenders to justice. Thus accomplice evidence might seem unreliable but it is often a very useful and even invaluable tool in crime detection, crime solving and delivering justice and consequently a very important part of the Law of Evidence.

Categories of Accomplice:

1. Principal offender of First Degree and Second Degree: The principal offender of first degree is a person who actually commits the crime. The principal offender of the second degree is a person who either abets or aids the commission of the crime. 2. Accessories before the fact: They are the person who abet, incite, procure, or counsel for the commission of a crime and they do not themselves participate in the commission of the crime. 3. Accessories after the fact: They are the persons who receive or comfort or protect persons who have committed the crime knowing that they have committed the crime

Competency of Accomplice as Witness:

An accomplice is a competent witness provided he is not a co accused under trial in the same case. But such competency which has been conferred on him by a process of law does not divest him of the character of an accused. An accomplice by accepting a pardon under Section 306 CrPC becomes a competent witness and may as any other witnesses be examined on oath; the prosecution must be withdrawn and the accused formally discharged under Section 321 CrPC before he can become a competent witness. Even if there is an...
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