New Delhi: An accused cannot be convicted on the ground of suspicion, no matter how strong it is, the Supreme Court said on Thursday, while acquitting a man in a murder case.
A bench of Justices B R Gavai and P S Narasimha said an accused is presumed to be innocent unless proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is settled law that the suspicion, however strong it may be, cannot take the place of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. An accused cannot be convicted on the ground of suspicion, no matter how strong it is, the bench said.
The apex court said in the present case, the prosecution has utterly failed to establish the chain of events which can be said to exclusively lead to the one and only conclusion, i.e., the guilt of the accused.
In that view of the matter, we find that the judgment and order of the learned sessions judge and that of the high court are not sustainable, the bench said.
The top court was hearing an appeal filed by a man challenging an order passed by the High Court of Punjab & Haryana convicting him for the offences punishable under Section 302 (murder) and Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and sentencing him to rigorous imprisonment for life.
Advocate Rishi Malhotra, appearing for the man, submitted that from the perusal of the postmortem report, it is clear that it is not proved beyond reasonable doubt that the dead body on which the postmortem was conducted was of deceased.
The additional advocate general for the state on the contrary, submitted that the high court and trial court have concurrently found the accused to be guilty of the offences charged with.
The top court said there has to be a chain of evidence to complete so as not to leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused and must show that in all human probability the act must have been done by the accused.
It has been held that the circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency.
This court has held that the circumstances should exclude every possible hypothesis except the one to be proved. It has been held that the accused ‘must be’ and not merely ‘may be’ guilty before a court can convict, the bench said.