The Supreme Court ruled that Prosecution failed to prove basic facts, Burden of proof cannot then be shifted to the accused by resorting to Section 106 of the Indian Evidence Act.
The prosecution case is that Shashi Devi had married the accused Satye Singh four years prior to the date of the incident which had taken place any time between the evening to the morning. The accused Indra Devi happened to be the mother of the accused-Satye Singh. Rai Singh, Pradhan of the village-Ger of the accused informed Virendra Raj, Naib Tehsildar, Revenue Police telephonically that one lady had died due to burns. The Naib Tehsildar -Virendra Raj therefore reached at the spot i.e. Chhan (hut) of the accused, after making an entry of the said information, saw that the dead body of the deceased was lying in the room of Chhan in the burnt condition. It was the further case of the prosecution that Sharad Singh father of the deceased, on receiving the phone call from the accused-Satye Singh had also arrived on the spot. The said Sharad Singh gave a written complaint to the Naib Tehsildar against the accused-Satye Singh (husband), Indra Devi (mother-in-law), and Sangeeta Devi (sister-in-law) of the deceased, which was registered.
Advocate Shikhil Suri, appearing on behalf of the appellants-accused, through Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, contended that both the Courts i.e., the Trial Court and the High Court had committed gross error in convicting the appellants though there was no cogent evidence adduced by the prosecution to prove the charges leveled against the appellants.
Advocate Krishnam Mishra, appearing for the respondent-State, contended that there being concurrent findings of the facts recorded by the two courts, the Court exercising limited jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution of India may not re-appreciate the evidence and come to a different conclusion.
The division bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Bela M. Trivedi noted that the entire case of the prosecution hinged on circumstantial evidence as there was no eye witness to the alleged incident. Though the accused had tried to propound the story of the deceased having committed suicide, both the courts had rightly not accepted the said story, in view of the clinching evidence of the Dr. Sanjay Kavdwal, who had carried out the post-mortem of the deceased and recorded the injuries found on the dead body of the deceased, which were ante-mortem in nature.
The court further noted that the entire investigation carried out by the Investigating Officers Gunanand Bahuguna and Virendra Raj was in a very cursory and shoddy manner.
The court stated that the prosecution having failed to prove the basic facts as alleged against the accused, the burden could not be shifted on the accused by pressing into service the provisions contained in section 106 of the Evidence Act.
The court acquitted the accused from the charges leveled against them and directed to set free the accused.
Case title: Satye Singh & Anr. v/s State of Uttarakhand
Citation: CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 2374 of 2014