Boutique Litigation Law Firm - Retain Lawyers - Research based Law Firm - Complete legal services

For Murder & Theft, it is not safe to draw inference that the person in possession of stolen property is murderer: Supreme Court sets free convict awarded life imprisonment by HC

The SC on May 29, 2020 {SONU @ SUNIL vs STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH} held that the first thing to be established in cases of murder & theft is that the theft and murder forms part of one transaction. It was held that the circumstances may indicate that the theft and murder must have been committed at the same time. It was held that but it is not safe to draw the inference that the person in possession of the stolen property was the murderer.

It was held by the Bench, comprising of Justice K.M. Joseph & Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, that the question whether a presumption should be drawn under illustration (a) of S. 114 of the Evidence Act is a matter which depends on the evidence and the circumstances of each case. It was held that the nature of the stolen article, the manner of its acquisition by the owner, the nature of the evidence about its identification, the manner in which it was dealt with by the appellant, the place and the circumstances of its recovery, the length of the intervening period, the ability or otherwise of the appellant to explain his possession, are factors which have to be taken into consideration in arriving at a decision.

In the present case, in place of death penalty awarded by Trial Court, the High Court sentenced the appellant and two other accused to life imprisonment, inter alia, for the offences under Sections 394, 460 and 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The said conviction was assailed before the SC by the appellant.

The SC held that there is no law to our knowledge which lays down that a person accompanying the principal culprit shares his intention in respect of every act which the latter might eventually commit.

The Bench further held that, in this case, as far as the appellant is concerned, the evidence against him essentially consists of the recovery of the mobile phone and there is discrepancy about the number. It was held that PW5 has not taken the name of the appellant. It was observed that essentially evidence of PW5 and the recovery is relied on to hold that the chain of circumstances is complete. It was held that the appellant is not mentioned as one of the persons who used to visit the deceased’s father though three of the other accused were named, viz., Veeru, Kalli and Virendra. It was held that there is complaint from the appellant that no Test Identification Parade was conducted for the accused. 

In the facts of this case, the SC concluded that it is inclined to think that it would not be safe to uphold the conviction of the appellant. It was held that he would be entitled to the benefit of doubt. The SC allowed the appeal. The impugned judgment in so far as it relates to the appellant was set aside and he was acquitted.  He was set at liberty by the SC, subject to if his custody is not required in connection with any other case.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published