Evidence is a proof which supports a claim or a belief and if it is not present, nothing then remains to prove the innocence or guilt of the convict. The Supreme Court presided over by three-judge bench of Hon’ble Justice UU Lalit, Hon’ble Justice Indu Malhotra and Hon’ble Krishna Murari in the case of Hari om V/s State of UP [Criminal appeal no.1256 of 2017].
In the instant case, Hari Om, Saurabh, Sanjay were convicted under Section 396 of Indian Penal Code for the offence of Dacoity with murder on the charges of murdering 4 people inclusive of 2 children in 2008. Trial Court had then awarded death sentence to Hari Om and life imprisonment to the other two convicts. Allahabad High Court had confirmed the conviction. Later on, Amicus curiae BH Marlapalle submitted an appeal in Supreme Court pointing out the fact of there being inconsistencies in the witness’s testimony and the fingerprints were not collected properly from the deceased’s house. It was argued that even though the fingerprints collected from the house matched with those of the convicts, it was not a substantive evidence and wouldn’t be sufficient to prove the conviction and sentence. Supreme court accepted the arguments and discarded the testimonies of the witnesses.
As a result, acquittal of Hari Om proceeded. The verdict passed to this effect read, “We do not find the material on record sufficient to record conviction of accused Hari Om for the offence under Section 396 IPC, and he must be held entitled to benefit of doubt.”
Supreme Court stated “Even if we accept that fingerprints lifted from the house of the deceased could be associated with the said two accused, that by itself, in the absence of any substantive piece of evidence, cannot be made the basis of their conviction. These accused are therefore entitled to the benefit of doubt”.