Supreme Court Acquits Man Accused of Murdering Wife 35 Years Ago; Says Conviction Resulted In 'Travesty Of Justice'

Team SoOLEGAL 29 Mar 2023 9:25am

Supreme Court Acquits Man Accused of Murdering Wife 35 Years Ago; Says Conviction Resulted In 'Travesty Of Justice'

New Delhi: The Supreme Court recently acquitted a man who had been convicted by both the trial and the High Court for the alleged murder of his wife 35 years ago.

After finding serious flaws in the case based on circumstantial evidence, a bench comprised of Justices BR Gavai and Sanjay Karol stated that 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 Trial Court in Daltonganj found the appellant Guna Mahto guilty of murdering his wife, Deomatiya Devi, under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. He was sentenced to life imprisonment under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and two years rigorous imprisonment for an offence punishable under Section 201 of the Indian Penal Code. The Trial Court's decision was upheld by the High Court.

The crime took place in 1988. The prosecution claimed that the accused murdered his wife and dumped her body in the village well with the intent of causing the evidence related to the crime to vanish. Later, the accused approached the police with filthy hands, fabricating a false story about his wife being "missing."

After reviewing the facts, the Court referred to the established principles of circumstantial evidence established in the landmark case of Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra.

The Court noted that there is no evidence, either ocular or documentary, relating to the factum of the accused causing the disappearance of evidence by providing information to the police in order to avoid prosecution for the murder of his own wife.

A Bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sanjay Karol also explained that the non-examination of the investigating officer proves  that the prosecution's case is doubtful.

“It is in this backdrop, that non-examination of the Investigating Officer attains significance. 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.”

Tagged: Supreme Court  
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