Mumbai: In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court has held that in a murder case based on circumstantial evidence, conviction can be imposed on an accused even if the motive for the killing is not established.
The verdict was delivered by justices V K Tahilramani and V L Achliya, who, on November 11, upheld the life sentence awarded to Railway Protection Special Force Jawan Shivram Sharma (45) for gunning down head constable Udhal Singh in 2009.
Sharma was convicted on September 9, 2010 by a sessions court in Mumbai. Being aggrieved, he filed an appeal in the high court which upheld the lower court verdict.
Sharma`s counsel Arfan Sait argued that the relations between the appellant and the deceased were good and they were friends, hence, there was no motive for the appellant to have committed the crime. He submitted that in such a case of circumstantial evidence, motive assumes great significance.
"No doubt, this is so. But, motive is such that it is locked up in the mind of the accused and sometimes, it is difficult to unlock the same", said the high court bench.
The bench relied upon a supreme court judgement which lays down that failure to discover the motive of an offence does not signify its non-existence. The verdict also says that failure to prove motive is not fatal as a matter of law. Proof of motive is never indispensable for conviction. When facts are clear it is immaterial that motive has not been proved.
"Thus, in view of the above decision, it is clear that in a case based on circumstantial evidence, even in absence of proof of motive, conviction can be imposed", the judges said.