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Possibility of any conclusion other than the conclusion of guilt of the accused would vitiate a conv

Basheera Begam  V  Mohammed Ibrahim & Ors., Criminal Appeal No.417 Of 2010-January 31, 2020.

A two judge bench consisting of Justice R. BANUMATHI and Justice INDIRA BANERJEE.

The accused persons (A1 to A8) were convicted for criminal conspiracy under Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code. Also, A1, A2 and A7 had been convicted under Section 302/34 of IPC for murder of the deceased D1 and D2. The Additional Sessions Judge, Pudukottai convicted all the accused under the sections stated above. When all the accused preferred the appeal, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court acquitted all the eight accused.  This criminal appeal was filed by the wife of D2 against the judgment of this court before the Honorable Supreme Court.

The Court observed: “At the cost of repetition, it is reiterated that the burden of proving an accused guilty beyond all reasonable doubt lies on the prosecution.   If upon analysis of evidence two views are possible, one which points to the guilt of the accused and the other which is inconsistent with the guilt of the accused, the latter must be preferred.   Reversal of a judgment and order of conviction and acquittal of the accused should not ordinarily be interfered with unless such reversal/acquittal is vitiated by perversity.   In other words, the Court might reverse an order of acquittal if the Court finds that no person properly instructed in law could have upon analysis of the evidence on record found the accused to be ‘not guilty’.  When there is circumstantial evidence pointing to the guilt of the accused, it is necessary to prove a motive for the crime. However, motive need not be proved where there is direct evidence.   In this case, there is no direct evidence of the crime.”

The counsel for the appellant argued that by setting aside the judgment and order of conviction of the Trial Court and acquitting the accused of all the charges against them, the High Court had erred in law as well as facts. In State of Rajasthan v Islam & Ors it is held that the law does not prevent the SC from exercising its jurisdiction under Article 136 against an order of acquittal passed by the High Court. This judgment was quoted by this counsel. From the evidences on record it’s observed that the acquittal cannot be sustained and thus the court is duty bound to set aside the acquittal. In most cases the High Court where direct evidence of conspiracy is unavailable and existence of fact was inferred from circumstantial evidence, overlooked the facts. In the cases Vijay Shankar vs. State of Haryana, Praful Sudhakar Parab vs. State of Maharashtra and Satish Nirankari vs. State of Rajasthan it was held that the direct evidence of conspiracy almost unavailable and its existence has to be inferred from the circumstances of the crime. This was also quoted by the counsel to support his side of argument. This counsel also quoted the judgment of Murari lal vs. State of Madhya Pradesh to ascertain that there is a hazard in accepting the opinion of an expert because humans tend to make error.

The court after undertaking the arguments of the appellants observed that in the case Shivaji Sahabrao Bobade v. State of Maharashtra it was held that “Certainly, it is a primary principle that the accused must be and not merely may be guilty before a court can convict and the mental distance between ‘may be’ and ‘must be’ is long and divides vague conjectures from sure conclusions”. For the conviction on the basis of circumstantial evidence, the circumstances from which guilt is to be drawn must be fully established. The case Sharad Birdhichand Sarda vs. State of Maharastra was decided by the Supreme Court that where there is no eye witness to a particular offence and the entire case is to be held on the circumstantial evidence, it should be firmly and cogently drawn. This view was also observed in Bablu vs. State of Rajasthan and Vijay Shankar vs. State of Haryana. In Satish Nirankari vs. State of Rajasthan it was viewed that to prove a criminal case prosecution should make it beyond reasonable doubt and it cannot be decided on the basis of hypothesis. Another case Sadhu Saran Singh vs. State of U.P. held that an appeal against acquittal should be on a different stage from an appeal from conviction. The judgment of Shanti Devi v. State of Rajasthan was quoted to lay down the principles for conviction of accused based on circumstantial evidence.

From the above observations the court decided that the prosecution has failed to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. This court also held that the High Court’s decision to set aside the judgment and order of conviction of the Trial Court was right. Thus this court acquitted the accused as they find no merit in the appeal. The appeal is liable to fail and thus it is dismissed.

View/Download the Judgment: Basheera Begum v Mohammed Ibrahim & Ors.

– PRIYADHARSHINI R

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