More than once, eyewitness testimony, given at the right time and the right place has changed the course of world history. The eyewitness testimonies of the disciples of Jesus who authored the Gospels found their way to the New Testament and helped establish and spread a major world religion. The eyewitness accounts of Holocaust survivors have kept alive the memory of all those who perished in Nazi Germany. At the Nuremberg Trials, eyewitness testimonies of survivor like Marie-Claude Vaillant-Couturier and perpetrators such as Hermann Göring and Otto Ohlendorf were instrumental in shedding light on the Jewish genocide and securing conviction.
However, eyewitness testimonies have come under sharp criticisms in recent times. This paper attempts to examine the reliability and admissibility of eyewitness testimony in India. By studying the common practice of courts, the paper sheds light on numerous problems that arise with respect to the application of and the jurisprudence behind eyewitness testimonies. It is seen that courts in India tend to place unfounded confidence upon eyewitness testimony, often at the cost of examining other more compelling and scientifically sound evidence. This practice has had severely adverse ramifications for the rights of the accused and has on some occasions led to wrongful convictions too. The paper concludes by offering explanations from the field of psychology and neuroscience on why eyewitness accounts are unreliable, and an alternative way forward is suggested.