Supreme Court: Conviction based on incorrect & incomplete evidence caused serious prejudice

The Supreme Court on Thursday acquitted a man who was convicted of his wife’s murder. The lower-level Courts found him guilty based on mere suspicion. [Guno Mahto v. State of Jharkhand].

Facts of the Case

The criminal appeal was filed by the appellant Guna Mahto who was found guilty of committing the murder of his wife. The Trial Court had sentenced the Appellant to life imprisonment under Section 302 (Punishment for Murder) and under Section 201 (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the Indian Penal Code for two years of rigorous imprisonment.

The Appellant approached the High Court of Jharkhand that delivered a judgment on 23rd July 2004 which affirmed the findings of the Trial Court. The High Court for their impugned judgement solely relied on the ocular evidence provided by the Public Witnesses and did not further examine the Investigating Officer.

On 13th August 1988, the dead body of the Appellant’s wife was found in the village well. The Local Police were informed about it and they conducted an investigation accordingly and brought it before the Trial Court. The Prosecution examined ten witnesses out of which six gave testimonies that were considered independently or evenly collectively that resulted in pointing out nothing that proved the guilt of the accused.

Observations by Apex Court

The Division Bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sanjay Karol noted that the Investigating Officer was not examined. Moreover, there was no evidence or documentary to prove that the Appellant had caused the disappearance of his wife. In spite there been testimonies that suspect the Appellant to have committed the murder and on findings they turned out to be of vague and unspecific nature. Yet, the Courts proceeded with the acquired assumption of the guilt of the accused for the reason that he was last seen with the deceased and lodged a false report of his wife. Based on doubt and suspicion the Appellant was held guilty.

The excerpts from the judgement read out as:

This Court does not interfere with the concurrent finding of facts reached by both the courts below. It is only in exceptional cases where we find the concurrent findings to be absurd, leading to travesty of justice, it is our duty to rectify miscarriage of justice

The Apex Court was of the view that the other Courts have seriously erred in passing the order of conviction based on incorrect and incomplete evidence which caused prejudice to the Accused. Thus, it concluded by setting aside the order passed by the Trial Court and High Court of Jharkhand and asked the bail bond of the accused to be discharged.


Source: Bar and Bench

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