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Suspicion, However Strong Cannot Take The Place Of Proof: Supreme Court Upholds Acquittal Of Murder Accused

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
21 Feb 2021 6:10 AM GMT
Suspicion, However Strong Cannot Take The Place Of Proof: Supreme Court Upholds Acquittal Of Murder Accused
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Suspicion, however strong cannot take the place of proof, the Supreme court reiterated while upholding the acquittal in a murder case.In this case, the prosecution case was that the accused had murdered the deceased by applying electric shock to him after administering some poisonous substances to him. The Trial Court acquitted the accused and later the High Court upheld the acquittal.In...

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Suspicion, however strong cannot take the place of proof, the Supreme court reiterated while upholding the acquittal in a murder case.

In this case, the prosecution case was that the accused had murdered the deceased by applying electric shock to him after administering some poisonous substances to him. The Trial Court acquitted the accused and later the High Court upheld the acquittal.

In appeal, the bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and Hemant Gupta, referring to the evidence on record, observed there is a  strong possibility that the deceased, who was as per the opinion of the doctor who performed the autopsy, intoxicated with alcohol, might have accidentally touched a live electrical wire, may be while he was asleep.  

"It is well settled by a plethora of judicial pronouncement of this Court that suspicion, however strong cannot take the place of proof. An accused is presumed to be innocent unless proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt.", the court observed.

The court added that, before a case against an accused can be said to be fully established on circumstantial evidence, the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn must fully be established and the facts so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of guilt of the accused. There has to be a chain of evidence so complete, as not to leave any reasonable doubt for any conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability, the act must have been done by the Accused, it said. Referring to Shanti Devi v. State of Rajasthan (2012) 12 SCC 158, the bench reiterated the following principles for conviction of the accused based on circumstantial evidence

  1. The circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be proved must be cogently or firmly established.
  2. The circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards the guilt of the accused.
  3. The circumstances taken cumulatively must form a chain so complete that there is no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability, the crime was committed by the accused and none else.
  4. The circumstantial evidence in order to sustain conviction must be complete and incapable of explanation of any other hypothesis than that of the guilt of the accused and such evidence should not only be consistent with the guilt of the accused but should be inconsistent with his innocence

"The Prosecution miserably failed to establish the guilt of the Accused Respondents. The Trial Court rightly acquitted the Accused Respondents. There is no infirmity in the judgment of the Trial Court, that calls for interference... An appeal against acquittal has always been on an altogether different pedestal from an appeal against conviction. In an appeal against acquittal, where the presumption of innocence in favour of the accused is reinforced, the appellate court would interfere with the order of acquittal only when there is perversity. In this case, it cannot be said that the reasons given by the High Court to reverse the conviction of the accused are flimsy, untenable or bordering on perverse appreciation of evidence", the bench said while dismissing the appeal. 

CASE: State of Odisha  vs. Banabihari Mohapatra [Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No.1156/2021]
CORAM: Justices Indira Banerjee and Hemant Gupta
CITATION: LL 2021 SC 103

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