Sunday, October 7, 2018

Supreme Court of India on Benefit of doubt when given in criminal trial

Supreme Court of India in Jose @ Pappachan v. The Sub- Inspector of Police, Koyilandy (2016) 10 SCC 519 in the following words:
"53. It is a trite proposition of law, that suspicion however grave, it cannot take the place of proof and that the prosecution in order to succeed on a criminal charge cannot afford to lodge its case in the realm of "may be true" but has to essentially elevate it to the grade of "must be true". In a criminal prosecution, the court has a duty to ensure that mere conjectures or suspicion do not take the place of legal proof and in a situation where a reasonable doubt is entertained in the backdrop of the evidence available, to prevent miscarriage of justice, benefit of doubt is to be extended to the accused.
Such a doubt essentially has to be reasonable and not imaginary, fanciful, intangible or non-existent but as entertainable by an impartial, prudent and analytical mind, judged on the touch stone of reason and common sense. It is also a primary postulation in criminal jurisprudence that if two views are possible on the evidence available, one pointing to the guilt of the accused and the other to his innocence, the one favourable to the accused ought to be adopted."

Supreme Court of India on consideration of circumstantial evidence in criminal trial

Supreme Court of India in Gagan Kanojia v. State of Punjab (2006) 13 SCC 516, the Supreme Court made the following observations, when considering convictions made on the basis of circumstantial evidence:
"Indisputably, charges can be proved on the basis of the circumstantial evidence, when direct evidence is not available. It is well settled that in a case based on a circumstantial evidence, the prosecution must prove that within all human probabilities, the act must have been done by the accused. It is, however, necessary for the courts to remember that there is a long gap between 'may be true' and 'must be true'. Prosecution case is required to be covered by leading cogent, believable and credible evidence. Whereas the court must raise a presumption that the accused is innocent and in the event two views are possible, one indicating to his guilt of the accused and the other to his innocence, the defence available to the accused should be accepted, but at the same time, the court must not reject the evidence of the prosecution, proceeding on the basis that they are false, not trustworthy, unreliable and made on flimsy grounds or only on the basis of surmises and conjectures. The prosecution case, thus, must be judged in its entirety having regard to the totality of the circumstances. The approach of the court should be an integrated one and not truncated or isolated. The court should use the yardstick of probability and appreciate the intrinsic value of the evidence brought on records and analyze and assess the same objectively."