Conviction only on the basis of suspicion and circumstantial evidences is unjustified

Supreme Court: While deciding upon the issue that whether an accused can be convicted only on the basis of suspicion and circumstantial evidence without any direct proof given by the prosecution, the Division Bench of V. Gopala Gowda and Amitava Roy, JJ., held that it would be unjustified to convict an accused only on the basis of suspicion and circumstantial evidence until and unless that evidences are corroborative with direct proof given by the prosecution. The Court thereby set aside the decision of High Court of Patna and held that an accused cannot be convicted until and unless all charges against him are proved beyond any reasonable doubt by the prosecution.

The appellant and deceased were husband and wife, while returning from their honeymoon the deceased went missing. The prosecution (parents of deceased) filed a complaint against appellant and his parents that they murdered the deceased due to non-fulfilment of their dowry demands. The High Court of Patna convicted appellant under Sections 304-B, 201 and 498-A of IPC. R. Basant, on behalf of appellant contended that the prosecution had failed to prove that the dead body recovered was that of deceased and cast doubts over the authenticity of the DNA test report. Also there were no evidences regarding any demand of dowry made by the appellant and treatment of the deceased with cruelty. However Subramonium Prasad, representing the respondents,  questioned the conduct of appellant for not giving the information of disappearance of his wife to the parents of deceased.

The Court relying on the Raj Kumar Singh v. State of Rajasthan, (2013) 5 SCC 722, observed that there is difference between “may proved” and “must be proved” and the accused cannot be convicted on the evidences which “may prove” his guilt without the presence of evidences which “must prove” the guilt of the accused. If two conclusions can be drawn from the case, one which refers to the guilt of accused and other which refers to an innocence of accused, then the Court should first follow the conclusion which refers to the innocence of accused. No accused should be convicted, till all the evidences presented by the prosecution, proves the guilt of an accused beyond any reasonable doubt. [Rajiv Singh vs. State of Bihar, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 1336, decided on 16.12.2015]

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