The Chhattisgarh High Court recently ruled that to invoke Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the prosecution has to establish that the accused was in a position of having special knowledge of fact concerned.

The Bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Sinha and Justice Shri Arvind Kumar Verma while looking into Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act observed that, “This provision states that when any fact is specially within the knowledge of any person the burden of proving that fact is upon him. This is an exception to the general rule contained in Section 101, namely, that the burden is on the person who asserts a fact. The principle underlying Section 106 which is an exception to the general rule governing burden of proof applies only to such matters of defence which are supposed to be especially within the knowledge of the other side. To invoke Section 106 of the Evidence Act, the main point to be established by prosecution is that the accused persons were in such a position that they could have special knowledge of the fact concerned.”

Advocate Alok Kumar Dewangan appeared for the appellant and Government Advocate Sangharsh Pandey appeared for the Respondent.

Petitioner approached the High Court with the present Criminal Appeal preferred under Section 374(2) of Cr. P.C. after he was aggrieved by the impugned judgment of the lower Court which convicted the appellant under Section 302 of IPC and sentenced him.

In the present case, the appellant was accused of the murder of her mother’s sister, who is suspected by him as someone who helps her wife in doing wrong things. It was alleged that she was assaulted by the accused with a sword-like weapon.

The Court noted that the trial Court was right in holding that the appellant was the author of the crime as there was no explanation given by him in his statement under Section 313 of the Cr.P.C as to how the deceased was found dead in his house. As per the Court, the burden of proof was on the appellant to explain such circumstances, which he failed to explain.

The bench relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in Shambhu Nath Mehra v. The State of Ajmer and as per the Court, SC held that “the general rule that in a criminal case the burden of proof is on the prosecution and Section 106 of the Evidence Act is certainly not intended to relieve it of that duty. On the contrary, it is designed to meet certain exceptional cases in which it would be impossible, or at any rate disproportionately difficult, for the prosecution, to establish facts which are “especially” within the knowledge of the accused and which he could prove without difficulty or inconvenience.”

The Court went on to quote from the Supreme Court judgment, while noting that the SC while considering the word “especially” employed in Section 106 of the Evidence Act, observed, “The word "especially" stresses that it means facts that are preeminently or exceptionally within his knowledge. If the section were to be interpreted otherwise, it would lead to the very startling conclusion that in a murder case, the burden lies on the accused to prove that he did not commit the murder because who could know better than he whether he did or did not. It is evident that cannot be the intention and the Privy Council has twice refused to construe this section, as reproduced in certain other Acts outside India, to mean that the burden lies on an accused person to show that he did not commit the crime for which he is tried.”

As per the Court, there is a strong motive for the appellant to murder her aunt i.e. the deceased as he suspected her aunt that she used to encourage her wife to do wrong things and in this regard, they used to quarrel.

The Court further observed that even though the mother, wife and father-in-law of the accused turned hostile and didn't support the prosecution case, Dehati Nalishi and merg intimation was recorded at the instance of the mother of the appellant herself. It further observed that the number of witnesses gave similar statements where the appellant himself had asked them to leave the place of incident and that he would open the door of the house only when the police would arrive.

The Court noted that the recovery of the weapon of assault was found at the instance of the accused. It further noted the inability of the accused under Section 106, Evidence Act to explain how the dead body of the deceased was found in his house.

Finally, the High Court upheld the conviction and order of sentence. It found Criminal Appeal devoid of merit and accordingly, dismissed it.

Cause Title: Vedprakash Rana v. The State of Chhattisgarh (Neutral Citation: 2024: CGHC:3800-DB)


Appellant: Adv. Alok Kumar Dewangan

Respondent: Govt. Adv. Sangharsh Pandey

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