The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that there should be no gap in circumstantial evidence, if a conclusion of guilt is derived from it.
A bench comprising Ashok Bhushan and Ajay Rastogi said: "In a case based on circumstantial evidence, the settled principles of law are that the circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn should be fully proved, such circumstances should be conclusive in nature and moreover, the circumstances should be complete and there should be no gap left in the chain of events."
The top court made these observations while dismissing a convict's appeal challenging a Madras High Court verdict, which sentenced him to life term for murdering his pregnant wife on October 28, 2005.
It noted that the prosecution had no direct evidence to offer and rested its case upon circumstances which would indicate that in the past, the accused was ill-treating his wife and there were complaints to the police.
Counsel for the accused tried to persuade the court that there are missing links in the circumstantial evidence on the basis of which the charge for offence under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code has been establish against the appellant.
The top court said the present case squarely rests on circumstantial evidence where the death has been caused by homicidal violence and the accused had taken the deceased to the hospital and made a false statement to the doctor that she had suffered cardiac arrest.
The claims of the accused were found to be false, as the post-mortem report established that nature of injuries on the body of the deceased were contrary to the accused claims.
The top court upheld the verdicts delivered by the trial court and the high court which handed down life term to accused R. Damodaran in the case. On the day of the incident, he had beaten his wife Nirmala Mary with a wooden log causing severe internal injuries.
The top court observed it has, in a series of decisions, consistently held that when a case rests upon circumstantial evidence, such evidence must satisfy the following tests: "The circumstances from which an inference of guilt is sought to be drawn, must be cogently and firmly established.."
Then, "the circumstantial evidence in order to sustain conviction must be complete and incapable of explanation of any other hypothesis than that of the guilt of the accused and such evidence should not only be consistent with the guilt of the accused but should be inconsistent with his innocence".
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