Read Order: Vineet v. State of Haryana 

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, March 9, 2022: While dealing with a murder case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that in cases based on circumstantial evidence, motive bears important significance and motive always locks up in the mind of the accused and sometimes it is difficult to unlock.

The Bench of Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Ashok Kumar Verma also added, “People do not act wholly without motive. The failure to discover the motive of an offence does not signify its non-existence.”

Further, the bench opined, “The failure to prove motive is not fatal as a matter of law. Proof of motive is never indispensable for conviction. Absence of proof of motive does not break the link in the chain of circumstances connecting the accused with the crime, nor militates against the prosecution case.”

The appellant before the High Court was accused of the murder of his wife for bringing insufficient dowry. On the complaint of the mother of the deceased-wife, an FIR was registered against the accused. On finding a prima-facie case, punishable under Sections 498-A and 302 of the IPC, the appellant/accused was charge-sheeted by the Trial Court. Eventually, the Trial Court found the accused-petitioner guilty under Sections 302 and 498-A of the IPC and sentenced him to undergo the aforesaid imprisonment. 

Aggrieved against the above-said judgment of conviction and order of sentence, the appellant filed the present appeal. 

The appellant’s counsel submitted that the appellant was falsely implicated in the present case and that there was no eye witness in the present case. It was also argued that the case of the prosecution was merely based upon circumstantial evidence and in the testimony of prosecution witnesses, there were material contradictions and discrepancies. Further, it was contended that the allegations of dowry were baseless and that as such offence under Sections 498-A of the IPC was not made out and therefore, in the absence of any motive, an offence under Section 302 was also not made out. 

The State counsel, on the contrary, submitted that the appellant was rightly convicted and sentenced by the trial court. It was also submitted that there was cogent evidence on record to show that the appellant was involved in the commission of the offence alleged.

The Court observed at the outset that merely because there was no eye witness in the present case, it was not enough to come to the conclusion that the appellant was not guilty of the offence. The Court then went on to peruse the statements of the witnesses to conclude that it was well proved that the appellant/accused under the greed of dowry mentally and physically harassed the deceased and ultimately murdered her by giving poison. Also, the Court noted that the appellant was unable to prove falsity in the prosecution’s evidence. 

In the words of the Court, “Overall analysis of above said events, unimpeachable evidence and the circumstances prove beyond doubt that the appellant/accused has committed murder of his wife. The appellant/accused has failed to prove his innocence. The prosecution has led cogent evidence to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. In fact, the complete chain of link evidence stands established from the testimonies of various witnesses produced by the prosecution.” 

Further, the Court pointed out that the defence was unable to elicit anything beneficial out of the cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses and that the evidence produced by the prosecution proved the guilt of the appellant beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Addressing the argument of the appellant’s counsel on motive, the Court opined that it is well established that there was a motive of demand of dowry behind the murder of the deceased at the hands of the appellant and the Court also added that even for the sake of arguments, it is assumed that there is no motive made out, but the fact remains that the case is based on circumstantial evidence. 

“As noticed above, in the present case, facts are clear and even motive is clear that there was persistent demand of dowry. Therefore, on analysis of the entire prosecution evidence, we are of the considered view that the appellant committed the offence of murder of his wife and thus the trial court has rightly convicted and sentenced him”, said the Court. 

Next, the Court made its observations on the law governing circumstantial evidence. In this regard, it was noted that it is a settled proposition of law that circumstantial evidence is in no way inferior to direct evidence and circumstantial evidence can be the sole basis of conviction. In the present case, it was observed that there was sufficient evidence available to establish the guilt of the appellant/accused. 

Also, it was stated by the bench that circumstances howsoever strong cannot take place of proof and that the guilt of the accused has to be proved by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt. Apart from this, the Court also opined that the presumption, as contemplated under Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 went against the accused. 

Thus, in view of the above discussions, the Court was of the considered view that there was no illegality in the judgment of conviction and order of sentence passed of the Trial Court. Accordingly, the present appeal was dismissed and the judgment of conviction and order of sentence passed by the trial court was upheld. 

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