Insufficient Evidence: SC ‘Acquits’ Man Who Has Been In Custody For 17 Years In Murder Case [Read Order]

17 years in jail following concurrent convictions in a murder case, SC acquits finally citing insufficient evidence

The Supreme Court, in a very brief non-reasoned order, has set aside concurrent conviction in a murder case and ordered release of the accused who has been in custody for 17 years.

In February 2015, the division bench of Punjab and Haryana High Court in a 27-page judgment dismissed the appeal preferred by Jitendra against the judgment of the trial court which had sentenced him to life imprisonment, for the murder he was alleged to have committed in the year 1997.

The prosecution had charged Santra Devi and Jitender for conspiring to murder Jaibir, the husband of Santra. According to prosecution case, Jabir was murdered in a room in his house, his body was cut into pieces with a sword and, thereafter, burnt and disposed of by throwing the bones and ash near a canal and by concealing the sword.

In the said case, affirming the conviction of both Santra and Jitendra, the high court had observed that the inability of the prosecution to prove by medical evidence the cause of death or the sex of the bones recorded, in our considered opinion, is insufficient to grant the benefit of doubt.

The bench of Justice AK Goel and Justice UU Lalit observed, in its single page order acquitting Jitendra: “We are unable to discern adequate credible evidence in support of conviction of the appellant. He is said to have been in custody for 17 years.”

The judgment does not provide any reason for setting aside concurrent convictions in this murder case, but only observes that the appellant is entitled to benefit of doubt.

Read the Order Here