The Supreme Court upheld the conviction of an accused in a murder case and explained that once the prosecution had shown that the victim was last seen together along with the accused then it was upon the accused to give explanation as to when and under what circumstances the accused had departed from the company of the deceased.

The bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Bela M. Trivedi observed that “the theory of “last seen together” was established by the prosecution, the accused was expected to offer some explanation as to when and under what circumstances he had parted the company of the deceased.”

“In the case based on circumstantial evidence, furnishing or non-furnishing of the explanation by the accused would be a very crucial fact, when the theory of “last seen together” as propounded by the prosecution was proved against him.” added the Bench.

Senior Advocate Salman Kurshid appeared for the petitioner and Advocate D.S. Parmar appeared for the respondent-State.

The petitioner-accused was convicted for the offence of murder under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code by the Sessions Court, which was upheld by the High Court in an appeal preferred before it. Against the order of High Court Special Leave Petition was preferred before the Apex Court.

The conviction by the Sessions Court was based entirely upon the circumstantial evidences. There was evidence on record that the accused had taken the victim out of his house on the evening, before the dead body was found next day morning.

The Court noted that the death of the deceased Pratap Singh had taken place during the night hours of 19th and 20th December,1995, and that the petitioner was lastly seen with the deceased on the previous evening. Thus, it was the petitioner alone, who knew as to what happened after the evening of 19th December, 1995.

The Court observed that “It is true that the burden to prove the guilt of the accused is always on the prosecution, however in view of Section 106 of the Evidence Act, when any fact is within the knowledge of any person, the burden of proving that fact is upon him. Of course, Section 106 is certainly not intended to relieve the prosecution of its duty to prove the guilt of the accused, nonetheless it is also equally settled legal position that if the accused does not throw any light upon the facts which are proved to be within his special knowledge, in view of Section 106 of the Evidence Act, such failure on the part of the accused may be used against the accused as it may provide an additional link in the chain of circumstances required to be proved against him.”

Further the Court said that “If the accused offers no explanation or furnishes a wrong explanation, absconds, motive is established and some other corroborative evidence in the form of recovery of weapon etc. forming a chain of circumstances is established, the conviction could be based on such evidence.”

Therefore, the conviction by the Session Court was upheld as the non-explanation of the petitioner-accused with regard to the circumstance under which and when the petitioner had departed the company of the deceased was a very crucial circumstance proved against him.

Accordingly, the Special Leave Petition was dismissed.

Cause title- Ram Gopal s/o Mansharam v. State of Madhya Pradesh

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