Prosecution Not Required To Prove Case Beyond All Iota Of Doubt – SC In Murder Case
A two-judge Bench of Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice V Ramasubramanian has held that the Prosecution was required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, which it has done, and not beyond all iota of doubt.
Senior Counsel Mr. Ajit Kumar Sinha appeared for the Appellants while AOR Mr. Sanjay Kumar Tyagi appeared for the Respondent–State during the proceedings before the Apex Court.
An appeal was preferred by the Appellant-Accused assailing the judgment of the Allahabad High Court which had dismissed the appeal of the accused against a judgment and order of conviction passed by the Additional District and Sessions Judge.
In this case, the Appellant was convicted of the offences under Section 302 read with Section 149, Section 307 along with Section 148 IPC, and sentencing him inter alia to life imprisonment.
The Appellant was granted bail by the Trial Court in 1980. Further, the High Court also granted him bail during the entire period of the appeal. However, he was taken into custody in 2019 after the dismissal of the appeal by the High Court.
The High Court did not find any major contradiction either in the evidence of the witnesses or any conflict in medical or ocular evidence, which could tilt the balance in favor of the Appellant.
Also, the High Court observed that minor discrepancies, improvements, or embellishments were insignificant and ought to be ignored in view of the overwhelming corroborative evidence of the other witnesses.
The Respondent before the Supreme Court placed reliance on Rohtash Kumar v. State of Haryana where it was held that the Court is not supposed to give undue importance to omissions, contradictions, and discrepancies which do not go to the heart of the matter and shake the basic version of the prosecution witness.
The Apex Court noted that the Appellant's presence was proved by two eye-witnesses. It was proved by the eyewitnesses, that the Appellant carried a rifle. In this context, the Bench opined –
"…But PW2 and PW3 deposed that all the accused had opened fire. The prosecution was required to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, which it has done, and not beyond all iota of doubt. The fact that one of the injured witnesses may not have mentioned the name of Appellant Karan Singh does not demolish the evidence of the other witnesses."
The Bench observed that it did not find any ground to interfere with the findings of the Trial Court and the High Court.
Further, the Court added –
"The fact that the trial/appeal should have taken years and that other accused should have died during the appeal cannot be a ground for acquittal of the Appellant."
Accordingly, the Court dismissed the appeal.