|Bench says all circumstances should be complete|
New Delhi: In a case based on circumstantial evidence, the settled law is that the circumstances under which the conclusion of guilt is drawn should be fully proved and such circumstances should be conclusive in nature, the Supreme Court has held.
“Moreover, all circumstances should be complete and there should be no gap left in the chain of evidence. Further, the proved circumstances must be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and totally inconsistent with his innocence,” said a Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and P.P. Naolekar.
The circumstances under which an inference was drawn had to be proved beyond reasonable doubt and shown to be closely connected to the principal fact sought to be inferred from those circumstances. The Bench said such evidence should satisfy the following tests, viz. the circumstances under which an inference of guilt was sought to be drawn must be cogently and firmly established; those circumstances should be of a definite tendency unerringly pointing towards the guilt of the accused; the circumstances, taken cumulatively, should form a chain so complete that there was no escape from the conclusion that within all human probability the crime was committed by the accused and none else.
In the instant case, the appellant, Harishchandra Ladaku Thange, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the trial court in Thane in a murder case. According to the prosecution, the body of Dwarkabai was recovered from a field on July 5, 1989, and that she was murdered on July 1, 1989.
The appellant was arrested on July 6 the same year. The trial court found the circumstances to be sufficient to fasten the guilt on the accused and, accordingly the conviction was recorded and sentence of life imprisonment was imposed. In appeal, the High Court affirmed the conviction and sentence.
The apex court set aside the conviction and sentence and directed his release forthwith holding that the prosecution had failed to prove the guilt of the appellant beyond reasonable doubt.
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