Unsafe to base convictions on ‘Last seen theory’ when time gap is considerably long : Supreme Court [Read the Judgment]

Unsafe to base convictions on ‘Last seen theory’ when time gap is considerably long : Supreme Court [Read the Judgment]

Supreme Court on Friday, in Nizam vs State of Rajasthan, held that the if  the gap between the time of occurrence and the time when the accused was last seen, is considerably long,  it would be unsafe to base the conviction on the “last seen theory”.  Setting aside the conviction which was confirmed by High Court, the Apex Court said “In the absence of definite evidence that appellants and deceased were last seen together and when the time gap is long, it would be dangerous to come to the conclusion that the appellants are responsible for the murder”.

In this case the deceased was travelling with the accused in a truck. Dead body of deceased-Manoj was found on 26.01.2001 under suspicious circumstances in a field near village Maniya. During the trial 21 witnesses were examined and the accused were convicted for murder. The High Court had upheld the conviction applying the ‘Last Seen Theory.’

Apex Court bench comprising of Justices R.Banumathi and Dipak Misra  said “It is well-settled by this Court that it is not prudent to base the conviction solely on “last seen theory”. “Last seen theory” should be applied taking into consideration the case of the prosecution in its entirety and keeping in mind the circumstances that precede and follow the point of being so last seen

Holding that the time gap to apply ‘Last seen theory’ is too long the Apex court said “The gap between the time when Manoj is alleged to have left in the truck No.DL-1GA-5943 and the recovery of the body is not so small, to draw an inference against the appellants.”In view of the time gap between Manoj left in the truck and the recovery of the body and also the place and circumstances in which the body was recovered, possibility of others intervening cannot be ruled out, the court said. It also added that place where the body of deceased was recovered is alleged to be a notable place for prostitution where people from different areas come for enjoyment.

Setting aside the conviction which was confirmed by the High Court, the court said “The “last seen theory” seems to have substantially weighed with the courts below and the High Court brushed aside many loopholes in the prosecution case.”

Read the Judgment here.