Circumstantial evidence remains to be controversial aspect in the justice delivery system. The recent judgment of the Apex Court in Basavannappa Parmeshwar Bangargir v The State of Maharashtra seems to have abeted the confusion around it, by holding that a conviction can be based upon a circumstantial evidence. It had gained limelight when the Talwars were convicted by the trial court on the basis of the circumstantial evidence in the well-known Arushi Talwar murder case.
In a case of circumstantial evidence, it is well-settled parameter of law that the chain of circumstance existing in a particular case should be unbreakable and should point out only at the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and there should be no alternative hypothesis available or probable in the case at all. It was held further that in case of circumstantial evidence, each circumstance must be proved beyond reasonable doubt by independent evidence excluding any chance of surmise or conjecture.
In the present case, a person was murdered by his own son in course of a dispute regarding property matters. There were no eyewitness and the conviction was based upon circumstantial evidences that lead to the conviction by the courts. Accused had contended that the conviction is not based on any firm ground and is merely on conjecture. Further, there was a no strong motive from the side of the accused to kill his own father. Not convinced by the contentions of the accused, the Supreme Court of India upheld the decision of the High Court of conviction based on circumstantial evidence. Motive assumes considerable significance and it is settled law that in a case based upon circumstantial evidence the prosecution has to prove the motive The prosecution was able to establish the motive of killing in connection to the land dispute. Further the eyewitness corroborated that the accused did go to the agricultural fields where the deceased had visited during that night of the unfortunate event. The accused was also on a run before being arrested by the police for the murder.
In its previous decisions, the Apex court has evolved a caveat in cases where conviction is on the basis of circumstantial evidence. The court must ensure, that miscarriage of justice is avoided, and if the facts and circumstances of a case so demand, then the benefit of doubt must be given to the accused, keeping in mind that a reasonable doubt is not an imaginary, trivial or a merely probable doubt, but a fair doubt that is based upon reason and common sense.
By- Anubhav Bijalwan
Student reporter, INBA