Circumstantial proof must stand on its own feet: Apex court

June 15th, 2011 - 10:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 15 (IANS) The Supreme Court has said that an accused could be convicted solely on the basis of circumstantial evidence but such a decision must survive on its own strength and not on the weakness in the defence of the accused.

“Undoubtedly, conviction can be based solely on circumstantial evidence. However, the court must bear in mind that while deciding the case involving commission of serious offences based on circumstantial evidence that the prosecution case must stand or fall on its own legs and cannot drive any strength from the weakness of the defence case,” the court said.

In a judgment delivered Tuesday, the apex court vacation bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice Swatanter Kumar said that “the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilty is to be drawn should be fully established”.

The court said this while acquitting S.K. Yusuf who was awarded life imprisonment by the trial court for murdering 13-year-old Sahanara Khatun Aug 31, 1991.

Sahanara Khatun of village Batrish Bigha in West Bengal had gone to her fields when she was murdered.

Yusuf was convicted and sentenced to life term by the trial court, which was upheld by the Calcutta High Court.

Speaking for the bench, Justice Chauhan said: “The fact (of circumstantial evidence) so established should be consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and they should not be explainable on any other hypothesis except that the accused is guilty. The circumstances should be of conclusive nature and tendency.”

“There must be a chain of evidence, so complete as not to leave any reasonable ground for the conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act (of crime) must have been done by the accused.”

On an accused’s extra-judicial confession, the judgment said: “The court while dealing with a circumstance of extra-judicial confession must keep in mind that it is very weak type of evidence and requires appreciation with great caution.”

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