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Rohita Bhuniya Vs. Respondent: State of Orissa - (High Court of Orissa) (04 Jan 2018)

A moral opinion howsoever strong or genuine cannot be a substitute for legal proof



The Appellant faced trial and convicted for offences punishable under Sections 498-A/302 of the Indian Penal Code,1860 (IPC) on the accusation that he being the husband of deceased subjected her to cruelty by demanding dowry since the date of their marriage till her death and committed murder of the deceased.

Law is well settled that fouler the crime, the higher should be the degree of scrutiny. A moral opinion howsoever strong or genuine cannot be a substitute for legal proof. When a case is based on circumstantial evidence, a very careful, cautious and meticulous scrutinization of the evidence is necessary and it is the duty of the Court to see that the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully proved and those circumstances must be conclusive in nature and all the links in the chain of events must be established clearly beyond reasonable doubt and established circumstances should be consistent only with the hypothesis of guilt of the accused and totally inconsistent with his innocence. Whether the chain of events is complete or not would depend on the facts of each case emanating from the evidence. The Court should not allow suspicion to take the place of legal proof and has to be watchful to avoid the danger of being swayed away by emotional consideration.

The circumstances brought on record by the prosecution have not been fully established and there is no cogent and reliable evidence against the Appellant to have committed the crime. The absence of an apparent motive is certainly a relevant factor to be considered in favour of the Appellant particularly when the case is based on circumstantial evidence. The reasoning assigned by the trial Court in convicting the Appellant seems to be based on conjecture and suspicion which have no place in the matter of legal proof of guilt of the appellant in a criminal trial and the impugned verdict is nothing but a sheer moral conviction.

Though a young lady has lost her valuable life within a few months of her marriage while she was pregnant and that to while she was staying in her in-laws' house but that itself cannot be a factor to convict the Appellant. Emotions have no role to play in a criminal trial in adjudicating the guilt or otherwise of the accused which is to be established by credible evidence. The crime committed may be cruel or ruthless but the evidence has to be evaluated dispassionately and objectively to see whether the accused is responsible for the said crime or he is innocent.

The prosecution has miserably failed to establish the charges against the Appellant beyond all reasonable doubt. The impugned judgment and order of conviction of the Appellant and the sentence passed thereunder is set aside. The Appellant is acquitted of the charges under sections 498-A/302 of IPC.


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