The Supreme Court has set aside the order of conviction and sentence of life imprisonment imposed on a man who was accused of murdering his wife and dumping her dead body in the well.

The bench of Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Sanjay Karol observed that the Courts below presumptively, proceeded with the acquired assumption of the guilt of the accused.

“Doubt and suspicion cannot form basis of guilt of the accused. The circumstances linking the accused to the crime are not proven at all, much less beyond reasonable doubt.”, the Court held.

Advocate V. N. Raghupathy appeared for the appellant-accused whereas Advocate Gopal Prasad appeared for Respondent.

In this case, the prosecution had alleged that the accused had committed the murder of his wife and thereafter dumped her dead body in the well of the village with an intent to cause disappearance of the evidence related to the crime. Later, the accused approached the Police with unclean hands by fabricating a false story, wherein he reported his wife to be ‘missing’.

The Court noted that the Investigation Officer was not examined. It further added that there was no evidence, ocular or documentary, relating to the factum of the accused having caused the disappearance of evidence by giving information to the police in order to prevent himself from being prosecuted in relation to the murder of his own wife.

“It is not that the Investigating Officer was not available or that the factum and manner of investigation was deposed by his colleague who was also associated with the same. Non-examination of the Investigation Officer has, in the attending circumstances rendered the prosecution case to be doubtful if not false. The offence under Section 201 IPC could not have been proven without his examination.”, the Court observed.

The Court reiterated that suspicion howsoever grave it may be, remains only a doubtful pigment in the story canvassed by the prosecution for establishing its case beyond any reasonable doubt.

“…in our considered view, the courts below have seriously erred in passing the order of conviction based on incorrect and incomplete appreciation of evidence, causing serious prejudice to the accused, also resulting into travesty of justice.”, the Court held while setting aside the Order of conviction and sentence.

Cause Title- Guna Mahto v. State of Jharkhand

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