Circumstantial evidence enough for conviction: SC
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Last Updated: Tuesday, June 07, 2011, 21:25
New Delhi: In the absence of any direct evidence, a person can be convicted on mere circumstantial material if sequence of events unmistakably point towards the guilt of the accused, the Supreme Court has held.

A bench of justices Asok Kumar Ganguly and Deepak Verma, however, said courts have to weigh such evidence cautiously to ensure that conclusive evidence was gathered by the prosecution to nail the accused.

"It is obviously true that this case rests solely on circumstantial evidence. It is true that in cases where death takes place within the matrimonial home, it is very difficult to find direct evidence.

"But for appreciating circumstantial evidences, the court has to be cautious and find out whether the chain of circumstances led by the prosecution is complete and the chain must be so complete and conclusive as to unmistakably point to the guilt of the accused," the apex court said.

The apex court made the remarks while dismissing the appeal of the husband Birender Poddar, facing a life term for torturing his wife to death as she objected to his extra-marital affair with his sister-in-law ("bhabhi")

The sessions court had awarded him life imprisonment and the Patna High Court affirmed the sentence upon which he appealed in the apex court.

Poddar took the plea that his conviction was erroneous as his wife died due to jaundice, there was no direct evidence of his crime and those who testified against him were all relatives of the deceased wife.

The prosecution had argued that Poddar tortured and strangulated his wife to death.

"If we look into the facts of the case, we find from the evidence of PWs 5, 6, 7 and 8 on which the prosecution relied that there is consistent evidence of ill-treatment of the deceased.

"There is also evidence of beating and injury mark on the deceased. There is consistent evidence that the appellant had an illicit relation with one Janki Devi, who is the wife of the brother of the appellant and as the deceased was complaining of such illicit relations of the appellant with that lady, she was subjected to torture.

"We find that the defence of the appellant that the deceased was suffering from jaundice has not been proved at all. There is no evidence on record that the deceased was treated for jaundice," the apex court said.

The bench also rejected the defence argument that the witnesses were all relatives of the deceased and said that in the absence of other independent witnesses, the high court had rightly relied upon the testimony of the family members.

"It is, of course, true that the evidence of the interested witnesses have to be carefully scrutinised. We find that the high court has scrutinised the evidence of the relations with due care and caution," the bench added.


First Published: Tuesday, June 07, 2011, 21:25

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