Read Judgment: Nagendra Sah vs. The State of Bihar
New Delhi, September 15, 2021: The Supreme Court has held that Section 106 of the Evidence Act will apply to those cases where the prosecution has succeeded in establishing the facts from which a reasonable inference can be drawn regarding the existence of certain other facts which are within the special knowledge of the accused.
When the accused fails to offer proper explanation about the existence of said other facts, the Court can always draw an appropriate inference, added the Court.
The Division Bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Abhay S. Oka observed that when a case is resting on circumstantial evidence, if the accused fails to offer a reasonable explanation in discharge of burden placed on him by virtue of Section 106 of the Evidence Act, such a failure may provide an additional link to the chain of circumstances.
In a case governed by circumstantial evidence, if the chain of circumstances which is required to be established by the prosecution is not established, the failure of the accused to discharge the burden u/s 106 of the Evidence Act is not relevant at all, added the Bench.
The background of the case was that the appellant’s wife died due to burn injuries. On the basis of the information furnished by one Mahesh Sah, unnatural death case was registered and autopsy was done.
According to the post-mortem report, the cause of death was ‘asphyxia due to pressure around neck by hand and blunt substance’. Accordingly, on the basis of the directions of a senior police officer, an FIR came to be registered for the offence punishable u/s 302 of IPC.
After the case was committed to the Court of Sessions, a charge u/s 201 of IPC was added.
The Top Court found from the evidence of the prosecution witnesses that the in-laws of the deceased were very much staying in the same premises where the appellant and deceased were staying.
“The evidence adduced by the prosecution shows that at the time of the alleged incident, there were other members of the family of the accused with the accused in his house. However, it is not even the case of the prosecution that the relationship between the appellant and his deceased wife was strained or that the relationship between the deceased wife and the appellant’s parents was strained”, observed the Court.
The Division Bench found that what survived for consideration was only an opinion of the medical practitioner who conducted autopsy and gave a report on the cause of death.
As held in the case of Balaji Gunthu Dhule v. State of Maharashtra, only on the basis of post-mortem report, the appellant could not have been convicted of the offence punishable u/s 302 of IPC and consequently for the offence punishable u/s 201 of IPC, added the Division Bench.
“Moreover, there is no explanation brought on record by the prosecution for the delay in registering First Information Report. Though the post-mortem report was available on 18th November 2011, First Information Report was belatedly registered on 25th August 2012”, observed the Apex Court.
Therefore, the Apex Court concluded that the guilt of the accused has not been established beyond a reasonable doubt, as falsity of the defence is no ground to convict the accused, when the chain of circumstances is not complete.
Accordingly, the Apex Court acquitted the appellant from the charges framed against him for the offences punishable u/s 302 and 201 of the IPC