Non-explanation by accused in section 313 CrPC statement cannot be used as a link to complete chain of circumstances

Shivaji Chintappa Patil Vs State Of Maharashtra

Supreme Court

02/03/2021

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1348 OF 2013

About/from the judgment:

The Supreme Court observed that false explanation or non-explanation of the accused to the questions posed by the court under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, cannot be used as a link to complete the chain.

It can only be used as an additional circumstance, when the prosecution has proved the chain of circumstances leading to no other conclusion than the guilt of the accused, the court observed.

In this case, the accused was convicted by the Trial Court for the murder of his wife. Later, the Bombay High Court upheld the conviction and life sentence awarded to the accused. In appeal before the Apex Court, the accused contended that the case rests entirely on the circumstantial evidence and that the prosecution has not been in a position to establish, that the death of the deceased was homicidal.

Taking note of the evidence on record, the bench observed that, there were no marks on the body of the deceased which would suggest violence or struggle and that the medical expert himself did not rule out the possibility of suicidal death and the Post-Mortem Report shows, that the cause of death was 'asphyxia due to hanging'. The bench therefore observed that the prosecution has not proved that the death of the deceased was homicide.

The court also observed that the Section 106 of the Evidence Act does not directly operate against either a husband or wife staying under the same roof and being the last person seen with the deceased.

"Section 106 of the Evidence Act does not absolve the prosecution of discharging its primary burden of proving the prosecution case beyond reasonable doubt. It is only when the prosecution has led evidence which, if believed, will sustain a conviction, or which makes out a prima facie case, that the question arises of considering facts of which the burden of proof would lie upon the accused.", the bench observed.

Regarding the failure of accused to give explanation under Section 313 CrPC, the bench observed thus:

"By now it is well-settled principle of law, that false explanation or non-explanation can only be used as an additional circumstance, when the prosecution has proved the chain of circumstances leading to no other conclusion than the guilt of the accused. However, it cannot be used as a link to complete the chain... Insofar as the reliance placed by the learned counsel for the State on the judgment of Kashi Ram (supra) is concerned, it would reveal, that this Court had used the factor of non-explanation under Section 313 Cr.P.C. only as an additional link to fortify the finding, that the prosecution had established chain of events unquestionably leading to the guilt of the accused and not as a link to complete the chain. As such, the said judgment would not be applicable to the facts of the present case."

The court also found that the prosecution has utterly failed to prove motive beyond doubt. "In the present case, we are of the considered view that let alone establishing chain of events which are so interwoven to each other leading to no other conclusion than the guilt of the accused, the prosecution has failed even to prove a single incriminating circumstance beyond reasonable doubt.", the bench said while acquitting the accused.

Read the Judgment

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