New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said lapses in investigation cannot be exploited by an accused to his advantage if there is sufficient evidence to nail him for a crime.
"It is well settled that remissness and inefficiency of the investigating agency should be no a ground to acquit a person if there is enough evidence on record to establish his guilt beyond reasonable doubt," said the apex court bench of Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai in a recent judgment.
"Irregularities or deficiencies in conducting investigation by the prosecution is not always fatal to the prosecution case," the court noted.
Justice Desai said: "If there is sufficient evidence to establish the substratum of the prosecution case, then irregularities which occur due to remissness of the investigating agency, which do not affect the substratum of the prosecution case, should not weigh with the court."
The court said this while upholding the life sentence of Kashinath Mondal who was convicted for raping and murdering his niece. The incident took place in West Bengal`s Hooghly district Oct 30, 1997.
The convict took the defence that he was held guilty on the basis of circumstantial evidence only. He said no finger-prints were lifted from the crime scene and no scientific evidence was presented by the prosecution to establish his guilt.
"We have no manner of doubt that had the investigating agency obtained the samples in a scientific manner and promptly sent them to the serologist that would have lent further support to the prosecution," the court said.
The court rejected the contention that had Mondal been guilty then he would have run away instead of coming to the spot upon hearing the voices of the people who had gathered.
"In the facts of this case, if the appellant (Mondal) had run away, that would have, in fact, weakened his case and strengthened the prosecution case. The decision to remain at the spot appears to be a calculated one," the court said.
On the prosecution`s claim that the victim and her uncle Mondal were the only people on the first floor and the house was locked from inside, the court said: "The only conclusion which can be drawn is that it is the appellant who was responsible for the murder."
This conclusion was irresistible and supported by the admitted strained relationship between Mondal and the victim`s father and his brother on account of a property dispute, the judges said.
The court held that though there was no witness to the crime it could rely upon the testimony of Mondal`s mother.
"It is true that there is no eye-witness to the offence. But, what persuades us to agree with the courts below is the fact that the mother of the appellant deposed against him. No mother would ever falsely involve her son in such a ghastly crime," the court said.