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Machindra v. Sajjan Galpha Rankhamb and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (19 Apr 2017)

Guilt of Accused must be proved beyond all reasonable doubts



Instant appeal is against judgment passed by High Court, whereby High Court while allowing appeal of Respondent Nos. 1 & 2, set-aside judgment conviction and sentence passed by Sessions Judge, and acquitted them of offence punishable under Section 302 read with Section 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. High Court reversed order of conviction while holding that, no reliance could be placed on evidence of PW-3. High Court further held that, both PW-4 and PW-10 had falsified evidences of each other. Non-examination of weapon recovered from place of incident by Chemical Analyzer also made the case doubtful as per opinion of High Court.

In case of Yogesh Singh v. Mahabeer Singh and Ors. Supreme Court observed that, it is a cardinal principle of criminal jurisprudence that guilt of Accused must be proved beyond all reasonable doubts. However, burden on prosecution is only to establish its case beyond all reasonable doubt and not all doubts. In present case, there are contradictions in depositions of PW-4 and PW-10 and none of them is eye-witness to alleged incident. Furthermore, PW-20 has proved in his deposition that he medically examined Respondent Nos. 1 & 2, when they were arrested. Prosecution had not examined one Sanjay Jetithor in whose field, alleged incident occurred. Non-examination of this material witness, who could have unfolded relevant facts of case necessary for adjudication, makes prosecution version doubtful. There was six days' delay in lodging FIR which remained unexplained throughout trial and in appeal before High Court. One Opinion on the cause of injuries was neither mentioned by doctor PW-6 in his deposition, nor in post-mortem report. In criminal cases, pertaining to offences against human body, medical evidence has decisive role to play. A medical witness who performs a post-mortem examination is a witness of fact though, he also gives an opinion on certain aspects of the case.

In post-mortem report, cause of injuries was not stated nor was any opinion formed to create independent testimony. Expert's opinion should be demonstrative and should be supported by convincing reasons. Court cannot be expected to surrender its own judgment and delegate its authority to a third person, however great. If report of an expert is slipshod, inadequate or cryptic and information on similarities or dissimilarities is not available in report of an expert then, his opinion is of no value. Such opinions are often of no use to Court and often lead to breaking of very important links of prosecution evidence which are led for purpose of prosecution. Therefore, prosecution has failed to prove that death was caused due to injuries inflicted by recovered weapons. PW-3, eye-witness to incident has neither stated as to when Accused came with alleged weapons nor he extended any help to deceased. Rather he fled away from spot as per his deposition, and came to know about death of deceased in evening. This peculiar fact of case completely over-rides direct evidence rule, because ultimately probabilities creating doubts with respect to cause and modus-operandi of offence increases, when alleged eye-witness flee away from place of occurrence. Where medical evidence is such that, it does not give any clear opinion with respect to injuries inflicted on body of victim or deceased, as case may be, possibilities that, injuries might have been caused by Accused are also ruled out. Such medical evidence is also very important in assessing testimony of eye-witnesses and in determining whether testimony of eye-witnesses can be safely accepted.

It is settled law of criminal jurisprudence as has been recognized by this Court in State of U.P. v. Krishna Gopal, that "A person has, no doubt, a profound right not to be convicted of an offence which is not established by evidential standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt." In view of proposition of law as observed in Yogesh Singh v. Mahabeer Singh and Ors., Supreme Court opined that there are not only actual but substantial doubts as to the guilt of the Respondents herein. We are, therefore, unable to find any evidence as to how the deceased was killed and by whom. The unfortunate man succumbed to injuries but the substantial doubts, mentioned above, confer a right upon the Accused-Respondents to be held not guilty. Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and held that, there is no reason to interfere with findings of High Court as, High Court after correct appreciation of evidence has rightly acquitted Accused-Respondents, giving them benefit of doubt.

Relevant : Yogesh Singh v. Mahabeer Singh and Ors. MANU/SC/1349/2016: AIR 2016 SC 5160 : 2016 (10) JT 332


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