Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of S. Murlidhar and I.S. Mehta JJ., set aside the conviction and sentence of the petitioners convicted under Section 302/24 of the IPC. The matter lay before the High Court via an appeal against the judgment and order of the learned Addl. Sessions Judge whereby the petitioners were condemned to life imprisonment along with fine of Rs. 5000 each.

The accused were allegedly seen drinking with the deceased by the deceased’s brother (PW 15) on the intervening night between 10th and 11th June 1999. The following morning, the deceased’s body was found lying atop a rickshaw along with a blood-smeared knife not far from the body along with a chappal. The post-mortem report conclusively pointed towards homicide with a sharp weapon which could be the knife collected from the crime scene.

The learned Addl. Sessions Judge had passed the conviction on the basis of circumstantial evidence forming a complete chain of events by which the guilt of the accused could not be denied. However, the court found material discrepancies in the testimony of the PW 15. First off, PW 15, being an interested witness had to examined carefully. He had talked about a “Chander ki Garage”, where allegedly the deceased had been drinking with the accused, which was not visited or enquired about by the IO. The recorded statement of PW 15 also gave the impression that his statement was recorded after the dead body had already been found as PW 15 states to have started looking for the accused instead of his brother in the morning. Barring the shaky testimony of PW 15 there was also no other proof showing that there was previous enmity between the accused and the deceased, hence removing motive from the equation. The Court stated that though the evidence of ‘last seen’ may evoke suspicion, it does not, in the surrounding circumstances attain the status of proof. Petition allowed. [Chhatar Pal v. State, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 6678, decided on 18.01.2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench comprising of L.Nageswara Rao and Navin Sinha, JJ. held that in the absence of conclusive and consistent proof of circumstantial chain of evidence which lead to the only “hypothesis of guilt” against the accused then, only circumstance of last seen cannot be made basis of conviction.

In the case where the accused were charged with rape and murder of the deceased whose severed body was found on the railway track after she was seen in the house of one of the accused persons, the Gauhati High Court held them guilty for causing death in furtherance of common intention, under Section 302/34 and for tampering with evidences, under sec 201 of Penal Code 1860 and awarded life imprisonment for the same. Prosecution relied on blood samples, postmortem certificate and last seen theory to form chain of evidence.

The Court held that there exist no conclusive proof of corroboration of statement of investigation and the blood stains found on murder weapon couldn’t be established. The Court allowed the appeal and reversed the decision of High Court, stating that last seen together cannot be the only ground for holding accused guilty, a connectivity must be established, the circumstance of “last seen together” does not by itself and necessarily lead to the inference that it was the accused who committed the crime. It further stated that due to the lack of corroborative evidence the appellants are acquitted of the charges under Section 302, 201 read with 34 Penal Code 1860. [Anjan Kumar Sharma v. State of Assam, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 622, decided on 23.05.2017]