|Criminal Appeal No.975 of 2011
|DATE OF JUDGMENT
|18 August, 2023
|The Supreme Court of India
|Indian Penal Code,1860(IPC)
|State of Tamil Nadu
|Hon’ble JudgeAbhay S. OkaHon’ble Judge Sanjay Karol
FACTS OF THE CASE
The appellant was found guilty of murdering his wife named Shanthi.He thought she had an extramarital affair with the person named Peethambaram.The appellant took her wife to the bank of Punnai river and assaulted her with the stick,she beared several injuries and further he buried her wife’s body.The parents of the deceased went about for the deceased whereabouts to the appellant and he replied that Shanthi was missing.The appellant was charged under Section 302 and Section 201 of Indian Penal Code(IPC) for murdering his wife and disappearing the evidence from the place where the act of commission took place,respectively.
The appellant made extra-judicial confession to a complete stranger after the two months of the act committed and the skeleton of the deceased was identified by the parents of the deceased.On the following submissions in trial court the appellant was awarded with life imprisonment and 7 years of rigorous imprisonment for meddling with evidence.The appellant seeked High Court after not being satisfied with the trial court’s judgment.However,the High Court rejected the appeal and upheld the decision of trial court.The appellant approached the Supreme Court and filed an appeal and claiming that the prosecution’s evidence are merely insufficient to prove the appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.The Supreme Court asked the prosecution about the veracity and validity of the elements of the case and after weighing the evidence and arguments made.
Section 302 Punishment for murder
Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death or(imprisonment for life) and shall also be liable to fine.
Based on the criminal jurisprudence not only person who committed crime is guilty but also person conspired to complete the crime is even guilty,Section 201 of Indian PenalCode(IPC)
Section 201 deals with causing disappearance of evidence of offence,or giving false information,to screen offenders.This section deals with the circumstances where person cause disappearance of the evidence with intention to screening the offender from legal punishment.The main elements include in disappearing of evidence is as follows:
- Evidence must be disappeared from the place of crime
- Accused must have knowledge of the offence
- There should be absolute intention to disappear evidence to screening the offender from legal punishment
- Whether extra-judicial confession made by the appellant is considered valid or not?
- Identified skeleton of the deceased by parents valid or not?
- Well founded the dead body weapon of offence
ARGUMENTS OF THE PARTIES
- First the counsel defended the extra-judicial confession made by the appellant which were complete strangers to him and never them before and such confessions are made when a person has implicit faith.Further,question was raised on the veracity of the said confession.
- Second the counsel defended that the prolonged time period between the incident occured and the confession made,the confession was made after the two months of the incident.The gap between the incident and confession raise a question about the appellant’s motivation and readiness to confess.If the appellant wants to confess he would have confessed sooner after the incident not after two months.
- The prosecution claimed the appellant’s extra-judicial confession was of much concern.They standby that the confession was valid and witnesses claimed that they overheard the confession were reliable.
- The confession was true based on witnesses’ testimonies.Though the appellant was unfamiliar to the person whom he confessed it doesn’t make confession illegitimate.
- The discovery of the victim’s dead body was a piece of evidence found at the commission of the offence and was the last source to convict the appellant.The claim made by the respondent was that appellant’s seems to be in the role of directing the law enforcement to the body’s location proved his knowledge and desire to cover up the crime.
- The contentions of the prosecution focused mainly on the extra-judicial confession and discovery of the deceased’s body was the only evidence against the appellant.They sought to use these elements against the appellant to prove his guilt and the conviction was based on reliable evidence that met the required legal standards.
The Supreme Court reviewed the contention and evidence raised by both the parties.The court lays stress on veracity and reliability of extra-judicial confession and it should be genuine and made voluntarily.This raised a question on appellant’s extra-judicial confession that was made after more than two months and to the complete two strangers.As extra-judicial confession is regarded as a weak evidence in criminal trials.The confession gap to the strangers raised questions about the sincerity and plausibility of the confession.The burden to prove appellant guilty was on prosecution and prosecution failed to do so.The Supreme Court take on that there was cause of reasonable doubt about the appellant’s guilt after conscientiously examining the arguments of both the sides.The Supreme Court accepted the appeal and reversed the decisions by the Trial Court and the High Court.
The Supreme Court’s decision to grant the appeal and exonerate the appellant was founded on a careful examination of the available evidence and a dedication to maintaining the legal maxim “innocent until proven guilty.” To guarantee that justice was carried out fairly and impartially, the Court placed a strong focus on proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and acknowledged the flaws in the prosecution’s case.
written by Deepika Jain, BM Law College, Jodhpur 5th Semester, Intern at Legal Vidhiya
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