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Non-examination of all witnesses by the prosecution shall create a reasonable doubt, holding the accused not guilty: High Court of Calcutta

If there are two witnesses to an incident, and they have not been produced and examined in the court of law by the prosecution, it will give rise to a reasonable doubt thereby acquitting the accused, This was decided in the case of Soumik Roy  vs State of West Bengal [CRA 546 of 2017]  by Hon’ble Justice Bibek Chaudhari  in the High Court of Calcutta.

The appeal of this case was filed against an order passed by the Additional Sessions Judge convicting the appellant under Section 2- 354A/376 of the Indian Penal Code and sentencing him to suffer rigorous imprisonment for one year for the offence under Section 354A of the Indian Penal Code. The original facts of the case are that the victim was a patient who had gone to a medical centre to get an X-ray. One technician (the appellant in this case) came to the room and closed the door. Then he inserted his finger in her rectum after which he left and the woman informed her husband that ultimately led to the police complaint.

The contention of the appellant is that the prosecution failed to produce the statement made before the police at the first instance immediately after the occurrence and the written statement of the defacto complainant which is treated by the police as FIR is not as FIR. It is only a statement made by her under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The other contention was that there were infirmities in the evidence of the victim lady which is why it cannot be taken as the solitary foundation for the conviction of the appellant. Also, it was stated that the prosecution failed to examine witnesses during the court proceedings.

The most important contention that was put forth by the appellant was that when two plausible views with regard to an incident are forthcoming, the court shall accept the version that supports the accused and the accused would have been acquitted from the ‘charge on benefit of doubt’.

Taking in view all the above reasons, the court noted down relevant cases like the Ramakant Rai vs. Madan Rai & Ors. (2002) 12 SCC 395 where it was held “Law cannot afford any favour other than the truth and to constitute reasonable doubt, it must be free from any over emotional response. Doubts must be actual and substantial doubts as to the guilt of the accused persons arising from the evidence or from the lack of it, as opposed to mere vague apprehensions. A reasonable doubt is not an imaginary, trivial or a merely possible doubt, but a fair doubt based upon reason and common sense. It must grow out of the evidence in the case.”

Relying upon this case, it was held that “It is a well-known and well followed principle in criminal jurisprudence that the prosecution is under obligation to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. In this case the accused has clearly mentioned the presence of two more people in the X-ray room at the time of conducting X-ray of the de facto complainant. The said witnesses confirmed the fact that no such incident took place in the X-ray room in their presence.”

The court categorically said that The criminal justice system does not need the prosecution to prove absolute guilt of the accused but when there are two eye witness presented before the court who accepted their presence and claimed that no such event had taken place on that day and the prosecution failed to cross examine them and raise a doubt about credibility of their evidence, then there is an actual doubt present in this situation as to whether the incident actually took place or not.

Hence, for these reasons, the court decided to allow the petition and acquit him from all charges

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