Mumbai: In a murder case resting on circumstantial evidence, the onus lies on the accused to explain the circumstances as to how the victim died, the Bombay High Court said while upholding the life sentence awarded to a woman for murdering her husband.
A division bench of Justices VK Tahilramani and VL Achliya was recently hearing an appeal filed by 26-year-old Sonali Giri challenging the conviction and life sentence awarded to her by a sessions court for allegedly strangulating her husband to death.
According to prosecution, Sonali, who works in a beer bar, had on December 30, 2009, consumed liquor at the bar and returned home after working hours. The next morning, she called her husband Santosh`s brother Sanjay and informed him that Santosh had committed suicide by hanging himself.
When Sanjay and neighbours went to the house, Santosh`s body was found on the ground. Post mortem and medical evidence showed that as per the ligature marks, the victim had not committed suicide but had been murdered.
It is the prosecution case that Sonali had strangulated Santosh to death as she was tired of his constant harassment and physical abuse.
"It is seen that the appellant and the deceased were the only people present in the room and one of them was dead and the other alive. In such a case, onus lies on the appellant to explain the circumstances as to how the deceased died as it is within the exclusive knowledge of the appellant," the High Court said.
"In a case resting on circumstantial evidence, if the accused fails to offer a reasonable explanation in discharge of the burden placed on him or her, that itself provides an additional link in the chain of circumstances proved against him," the bench observed.
The court further held that in a case of circumstantial evidence, motive also assumes great significance. It also noted that Sonali gave false information to the police that her husband had hung himself.