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Weakness in the defence taken cannot become the strength of the prosecution
Anand Ramachandra Chougule Vs Sidarai Laxman Chougala and Ors
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO(s). 1006 OF 2010
About/from the judgment:
Weakness in the defence taken cannot become the strength of the prosecution, remarked the Supreme Court while reiterating that the benefit of doubt must follow unless the prosecution is able to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt.
In Anand Ramachandra Chougule vs. Sidarai Laxman Chougala, the bench upheld the acquittal of the accused in a murder case by the High Court granting them benefit of doubt.
In this case, the bench noted that the burden lies on the prosecution to prove the allegations beyond all reasonable doubt and that the accused has only to create a doubt about the prosecution case and the probability of its defence. It said:
"An accused is not required to establish or prove his defence beyond all reasonable doubt, unlike the prosecution. If the accused takes a defence, which is not improbable and appears likely, there is material in support of such defence, the accused is not required to prove anything further. The benefit of doubt must follow unless the prosecution is able to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubt."
The court further observed that the fact that a defence may not have been taken by an accused under Section 313, Cr.P.C. again cannot absolve the prosecution from proving its case beyond all reasonable doubt. If there are materials which the prosecution is unable to answer, the weakness in the defence taken cannot become the strength of the prosecution to claim that in the circumstances it was not required to prove anything, it said.
The court further said that the failure of the prosecution to investigate the F.I.R. lodged by the accused with regard to the same occurrence or to place their injury reports on record has caused serious prejudice to them. Upholding the High Court judgment, the bench said:
"Fair criminal trial encompasses a fair investigation at the pre-trial stage, a fair trial where the prosecution does not conceal anything from the court and discharges its obligations in accordance with law impartially to facilitate a just and proper decision by the court in the larger interest of justice concluding with a fairness in sentencing also"
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