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Recoveries made in the absence of any evidence cannot be termed sufficient to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt: Supreme Court of India

Course circumstances like recovery of clothing apparel as well as tiffin box etc., in the absence of any other material evidence on record pointing towards the guilt of the accused, cannot be termed sufficient to hold that the case was proved beyond reasonable doubt. This honorable judgement was passed by Supreme Court of India in the case of Yogesh, Anuj, Pardeep vs. State of Haryana [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.1306, 1307,1308 OF 2017] by The Hon’ble Mr. Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and The Hon’ble Ms. Justice Indira Banerjee.

These appeals aroused out of the common judgment and final order passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh. Eight persons were tried in Sessions Case with crime registered pursuant with Police Station City, Bahadurgarh, Haryana, in respect of the offences punishable under Sections 302/364-A/376/216 read with Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. A raid was conducted at the house of accused Diwan Singh, who allegedly disclosed that his son Anuj along with three others had kidnapped the victim and as pressure of the investigation by the police was mounting, the victim was murdered and her dead-body was thrown in the fields of village Paparwat. It was not clear as to when exactly the accused were arrested but it was the case of the prosecution that pursuant to the disclosure statements made by these appellants, the place where the dead body of the victim was lying could be located, and their disclosure statements led to the recovery of certain items like clothing, tiffin box etc. belonging to the victim. The dead body of the victim was subjected to post-mortem, which was conducted by Dr. P.K. Paliwal. No semen was detected in the vaginal swabs taken from the body of the victim.

The learned council referred the case of Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, (1984) 4 SCC 116 where the law on the point of circumstantial evidence cases was made very clear.

The court opinioned that, “There are of course circumstances like recovery of clothing apparel as well as tiffin box etc. belonging to the victim. However, such recoveries by themselves, in the absence of any other material evidence on record pointing towards the guilt of the accused, cannot be termed sufficient to hold that the case was proved beyond reasonable doubt. Not only those circumstances are not conclusive in nature but they also do not form a cogent and consistent chain so as to exclude every other hypothesis except the guilt of the appellants.”

The court allowed the appeal stating that, “the case of the prosecution has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt, and the appellants are entitled to the benefit of doubt. We, therefore, allow these appeals and set-aside the orders of conviction and sentence recorded against each appellant. The appellants be set at liberty forthwith, unless their custody is required in connection with any other crime.”

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