Sikkim High Court: Meenakshi Madan Rai J., while acquitting the accused charged under section 302, 392 and 427 of IPC held that “Despite there being strong suspicion against the appellant with regard to him having a hand in the death of the appellant, suspicion however strong cannot replace certainty. Moral conviction cannot be resorted to in a criminal case as the golden rule is proof of case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The appellant in the present case was charged of murdering a man in a vicinity of half kilometre from his home. The prosecution case dwells upon the “Last seen together theory” by testimony of a police officer whose evidence by itself is debatable as he was himself travelling in the direction opposite to that allegedly taken by the victim and the appellant. Moreover, the motive was not able to be established by appellant’s strong financial condition and no personal connection. The appellant’s counsel relied upon the case of Tarseem Kumar v. The Delhi Administration, AIR 1994 SC 2585 and State of Rajasthan v. Hakam Singh, (2011) 15 SCC 171 where the court acquitted the accused in absence of clear conclusive evidences to establish chain of events with specific motive, intention and action. In response to the appellant’s contentions, the public prosecutor put forth that motive was for the purpose of supplying a link in the chain of circumstantial evidence, but its absence cannot be a ground to reject the Prosecution case as held by court in the case of Paramjeet Singh v. State of Uttarakhand, (2010) 10 SCC 439.

The Court while rejecting Prosecutor’s argument stated that “In cases relying upon circumstantial evidence, the circumstances must be so convincing that no other conclusion can be arrived at than the guilt of the accused which must adequate to convict the accused. The Court set aside the judgment of trial court after examining the facts with evidences which did not cleared the reasonable doubt by relying upon the judgments of Supreme Court in the cases of State of Rajasthan v. Naresh, (2009) 9 SCC 368 and State of Haryana v. Ram Singh, (2002) 2 SCC 426.

Consequently, the conviction and sentence imposed on the appellant vide the impugned Judgment and Order on Sentence of the Trial Court were set aside and appellant was ordered to be released from custody along with reimbursement of fine paid by him, if any.[Subhash Thapa v. State of Sikkim, 2021 SCC OnLine Sikk 193, decided on 14-12-2021].

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appearances by-

Mr Tashi Rapten Barfungpa, Advocate (Legal Aid Counsel) for the appellant.

Dr. Doma T. Bhutia, Public Prosecutor with Mr S. K. Chettri, Additional Public Prosecutor for the respondent.

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