Orissa HC quashed 21-year-old murder conviction, junks trial court findings on the basis of “Fictionalised”, “Half-Baked” and “Embedded in Probabilities.”
The Orissa High Court stated in its Judgment, “The entire circumstantial evidence is half-baked and seems to be more fictionalised.”
[Prakash Dehury v. State of Orissa]
Overturning a Trial Court’s murder conviction, the Orissa High Court had some scathing remarks for the lower court, pulling it up for not viewing the evidence in the right perspective and going downhill to complete the chain of evidence.
The remarks came following a criminal appeal by a man who was convicted for the murder of his wife twenty-one years ago.
The Bench of Justices Sanju Panda and SK Panigrahi observed:
“The Trial Court has floundered to appreciate the evidences in proper perspective as law is well settled to exclude the evidence which is embedded in probabilities and went downhill to complete the chain of evidence.”
Describing the evidence adduced by the prosecution as “half-baked”, “embedded in probabilities”, and “fictionalised”, the Court went on to remark:
Orissa High Court said, “The circumstances so found do not appear to be conclusive in nature.”
Reasoning that the prosecution had grossly failed to prove the charge against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt, the High Court stated that the accused was entitled to the benefit of the doubt.
Therefore, his sentence was overturned.
The case had its genesis in 1995, after the appellant’s brother told the police that he had witnessed his brother murder his wife.
Despite many of the prosecution witnesses turning hostile (including the brother) and there being no material to back the complainant’s statement and the appellant’s supposed confession to the police which led to the recovery of weapons, the Trial Court (Court of the Additional Session Judge) proceeded to convict the appellant and sentence him to life imprisonment.
Regarding the recovery of articles pursuant to the confession, the Court found that the persons arraigned as witnesses to the recovery did not say anything about the said recovery when examined.
“In our considered opinion, only seizing the weapon used in the crime and other articles at the instance of the accused proves to be a huge circumstantial gap sans corroboration”, the Court said.
There was no other conclusive corroboration for the appellant’s confession.
The Trial Court had rested its case on the brother’s testimony as well as the recovery of weapons. The Bench stated that though the law was settled that even the testimony of a hostile witness could be relied upon, it would have to be corroborated.
Concluding that the circumstances did not appear to be conclusive in nature, the accused was discharged.
“The entire circumstantial evidence fails to show beyond reasonable doubt regarding the involvement of the accused. The Trial Court’s findings that circumstances were more than enough to install a reasonable doubt is unacceptable in the light of the discussion hereinabove.”
Advocates GK Mohanty, GP Samal, SR Swain, DK Nanda and PK Panda argued the appellant’s case, while Additional Government Advocate Janmejaya Katikia represented the State.