Can't Place Reverse Burden On Accused U/S 106 Evidence Act If Prosecution Hasn't Discharged Its Burden First: Allahabad HC
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The Allahabad High Court recently observed that no reverse burden could be placed on the accused with the aid of Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act [Burden of proving fact especially within knowledge] when the prosecution has not discharged its burden first.
With this, the bench of Justice Dr. Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Justice Ajai Tyagi set aside the conviction and life imprisonment sentence awarded to one Anil for allegedly killing his wife in June 2013.
It was alleged that the husband/accused along with her family member killed her wife (deceased) by administering poison to her as she couldn't fulfill the dowry demands of the husband and her in-laws.
The Court noted that the prosecution had failed to discharge its initial burden to prove that at the time when the deceased consumed the poison, the appellant, her husband, was also inside the house with her.
"The prosecution has not brought forward any evidence which could at least establish the fact that at the time of occurrence, the appellant was inside the house. Hence, there is no applicability of Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act in this case," the court remarked as it set aside the conviction of the accused husband.
The Court also noted that the Prosecution could not prove that this case was a dowry death case as the witnesses of fact examined by the prosecution turned hostile during the trial of the case and even the trial court didn't find it to be a dowry death case.
However, the Court further noted that during the trial, when the accused made a statement under Section 313 CrPC that he and the deceased used to reside in a separate house from his parents, the trial court, taking recourse to Section 106 of Indian Evidence Act, shifted the burden on the shoulders of the appellant to prove the factum of death of deceased as to how she died.
"As far as the concept of Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act is concerned, that is misread by the learned trial Judge because when the offence like murder is committed in secrecy inside the house, the initial burden to establish the case would undoubtedly be upon the prosecution."
"In our case, it is an established fact that the appellant and his deceased wife used to reside in the same house. Hence, the burden to prove the factum of the death of the deceased cannot be shifted on the shoulders of the appellant unless the prosecution, first of all, discharges its burden by proving the fact that at the time of alleged occurrence or at the time when the deceased consumed the poison, the appellant was also inside the house."
In view of this, finding that the prosecution had not discharged its burden to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, the Court set aside the conviction and sentence of appellant u/s 302 of IPC.
Also Read: Mere Presence Of Husband In House With Wife In A 'Hanging Position' Not Sufficient To Presume His Guilt: Tripura High Court
S.106 Evidence Act | Husband Can't Be Asked To Explain Wife's Death In Their House Unless Prosecution Establishes Prima Facie Case: Bombay High Court
Case title – Anil vs. State of UP [CRIMINAL APPEAL No. - 703 of 2017]
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (AB) 522