In a matter of circumstantial evidences, the law doesn’t require a particular number of circumstances to establish the chain, it only depends on nature: Bombay High Court

Law does not require a particular number of circumstances so as to establish the chain. It altogether depends upon the nature of the transaction. In a particular case, there may be few circumstances that are strong enough which leads to the guilt of the accused. There may be more circumstances that may be relied upon by the prosecution. It depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. This remarkable judgment was passed by the Bombay High Court in the matter of SANDIP BABURAO WAIDANDE V THE STATE OF MAHARASHTRA [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 974 OF 2019] by Honourable Justice Prasanna B. Varale and Justice S. M. Modak.

This case was a criminal appeal filed against the judgment and conviction under section 302 of IPC by Sessions Judge and the HC was required to upon the issue of circumstantial evidence through a narrow compass since the issue involved in this appeal is whether the link in between the incident of murder and the accused is established on the basis of proved circumstances.

In the present case, the accused and his wife were labourers and on the day of the incident, both the accused and deceased went from duty a little early due to the stomach pain of the accused and then slept. On next day when the first informant went to wake them up, he saw Nirmala’s dead body but did not notice the accused and went and lodged a complaint. Police arrested accused and filed a charge sheet for the offence punishable under Section 302 of IPC.

The prosecution relied upon the circumstances of- Last seen theory, Motive, noticing soaked blood stains on the clothes of the accused and Absconding himself from the spot of the incident even though his wife is murdered.

The Court in this regard stated that they will rely on the golden principles laid down for appreciating circumstantial evidence. “The principles are: –

  1. a) The circumstance relied upon must be fully established.
  2. b) They must be consistent with the hypothesis of guilt of the accused.
  3. c) They should be conclusive in nature. Only inference about guilt of the accused is to be inferred.
  4. d) There should be complete chain of evidence so as not to lead any doubt about the involvement of the accused.”

The HC relied on the Supreme Court’s decision in State of Goa v. Sanjay Thakran, (2007) 3 SCC 755 and stated, “last seen circumstance has to be proved just like any other circumstance. The only difference is once the prosecution will prove that both the deceased and accused were found lastly together then certainly it is for the accused to explain about whereabouts or what has happened about his companion. In this exercise, the time of last seen and time of death also plays important role.”

The Court observed that “Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure empowers the Court to put questions in two eventualities. One is optional and it may be at any stage of the proceeding. Whereas 2nd is mandatory and it is after prosecution witnesses were examined” and decided to neither remit the matter nor put the questions to the accused since “the circumstance of the last seen together is considered, we do not think that other circumstances are sufficient enough to prove the guilt of the accused i.e., neither recovery at the instance of the accused nor there is direct evidence. Even evidence on the point of motive is insufficient. So, certainly, we are of the opinion that prejudice is caused to the accused.”

Additionally, High Court found the Trial Court’s decision about the arrest of the accused to be flawed since there were no supporting documents. Also, the Bench stated that, “merely because there was a huge time gap in between the timing of last seen together and probable timing of death the evidence of last seen together could not be rejected in all cases.”

Thus, on basis of analyzing the witnesses and the prosecution and accused statements and submissions, the Court stated, “Prosecution had sufficiently proved the circumstances of last seen together. However, the Court opined that the circumstance of motive is not proved and evidence on the point of arrest and seizure of clothes was not trustworthy. So, Court felt that the chain of circumstances was not established.”

Hence, High Court held that there was grave suspicion on the accused that he had committed the murder of his own wife but suspicion could not take place of proof hence conviction was set aside and the appeal was allowed.

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