Read Judgment:SABITRI SAMANTARAY AND ORS v. STATE OF ODISHA 

Tulip Kanth

New Delhi, May 24,2022: Referring to its judgment in Trimukh Maroti Kirkan Vs. State of Maharashtra, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed that Section 106 of the Evidence Act is in no way aimed at relieving the prosecution from its burden to establish the guilt of an accused and it applies to cases where chain of events has been successfully established by the prosecution, from which a reasonable inference is made out against the accused.

Observing that Section 106 postulates that the burden of proving things which are within the special knowledge of an individual is on that individual, the Larger Bench of Chief Justice N.V.Ramana, Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Hima Kohli asserted, “Although the Section in no way exonerates the prosecution from discharging its burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt, it merely prescribes that when an individual has done an act, with an intention other than that which the circumstances indicate, the onus of proving that specific intention falls onto the individual and not on the prosecution.”

The factual matrix of this case was such that an unknown person had entered the house of the accused appellants. When the police arrived at the crime scene, this unknown person was found dead  inside the kitchen of the appellants’ house and the deceased had a love relationship with the daughter of the appellants. Charge sheet was submitted against the accused appellants and their daughter (third accused) for offences under Sections 302, 201, 109 and 34 IPC. The Sessions Court convicted the accused appellants and their daughter under above said Sections, Later, the High Court acquitted the daughter of all charges but the two accused were sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a term of five years. Thus, this appeal was filed.

The Bench examined the testimony of the witnesses and opined that from the statement of the landlord it was clear that at the time of death of the deceased, only the accused appellants were present inside the house. As per the Bench, it  was therefore rightly observed by the High Court that the statement of the second set of witnesses clearly spelled out a motive for the commission of offence. It was also established that the claim made by the accused appellants that the deceased was not known to them was also false, especially considering that their daughter had admitted in her deposition that the deceased used to visit the house of the appellants. The opinion of the medical expert was also considered whereby it was concluded that the deceased was assaulted by two or more persons and the injuries were homicidal in nature.

The Bench held that the prosecution had succeeded in establishing intention of the appellants for the commission of the offence and so,once the prosecution had successfully established the chain of events, the burden was on the appellants to prove it otherwise. Thus, the High Court rightly observed that in light of Section 106 of the Evidence Act, the onus was now on the appellants to disclose how the deceased lost his life.

Stating that the entire sequence of events strongly pointed towards the guilt of the accused appellants and the appellants had failed to offer any credible defense in this regard, the Bench came to the conclusion that the entire chain of events pointed towards the guilt of the appellant. Thus, dismissing the appeal, the Bench directed the accused appellants to surrender before the Trial Court within a period of two weeks.

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