SC: A criminal trial is not a mock scene from a stunt film.

Today, i.e. on 12th March 2019, the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in the matter of  Sachin Kumar Singhraha v. State of Madhya Pradesh, pronounced that justice cannot be made sterile by exaggerated adherence to the rule of proof. Criminal justice should not become a casualty because of the minor mistakes committed by the Investigating Officer.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

The circumstances from which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn must or “should be” and not merely “may be” fully established. The facts so established should be consistent only with the guilt of the accused, that is to say, they should not be explicable through any other hypothesis except that the accused was guilty. Moreover, the circumstances should be conclusive in nature. There must be a chain of evidence so complete so as to not leave any reasonable ground for a conclusion consistent with the innocence of the accused, and must show that in all human probability, the offence was committed by the accused. (Para 7)

Minor variations should not be taken into consideration while assessing the reliability of witness testimony and the consistency of the prosecution version as a whole. (Para 10)

Criminal justice should not become a casualty because of the minor mistakes committed by the Investigating Officer. (Para 12)

If the Investigation Officer suppresses the real incident by creating certain records to make a new case altogether, the Court would definitely strongly come against such action of the Investigation Officer. (Para 12)

There cannot be any dispute that the benefit of doubt arising out of major flaws in the investigation would create suspicion in the mind of the Court and consequently such inefficient investigation would accrue to the benefit of the accused. (Para 12)

A criminal trial cannot be equated with a mock scene from a stunt film. Such trial is conducted to ascertain the guilt or innocence of the accused arraigned and in arriving at a conclusion about the truth, the courts are required to adopt a rational approach and judge the evidence by its intrinsic worth and the animus of the witnesses. The courts are not obliged to make efforts either to give latitude to the prosecution or loosely construe the law in favour of the accused. The traditional dogmatic hypertechnical approach has to be replaced by a rational, realistic and genuine approach for administering justice in a criminal trial. (Para 12)

Justice cannot be made sterile by exaggerated adherence to the rule of proof, inasmuch as the benefit of doubt given to an accused must always be reasonable, and not fanciful. (Para 16)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_12-Mar-2019

-Tushar Kaushik

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *