Supreme Court Acquits Murder Accused In 1982 Case After Observing That A Co-Accused Was Acquitted Based On The Same Evidence

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A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan of the Supreme Court acquitted a murder accused after 42 years, observing that a co-accused was acquitted by the trial court based on the same evidence.

The bench said “We are of the view that the appellant should be given the benefit of doubt as according to us, the prosecution could not prove his guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. Any lingering doubt about the involvement of an accused in the crime he is accused of committing, must weigh on the mind of the court and in such a situation, the benefit of doubt must be given to the accused”.

The verdict was rendered subsequent to the accused appealing to the highest court following a February 2018 decision by the Allahabad High Court, which declined to overturn the conviction and life sentence issued by the trial court.

The alleged murder occurred due to political animosity between the deceased’s sons and the accused.

The apex court observed multiple inconsistencies in the testimonies of eyewitnesses, particularly regarding the seating position of the deceased at the time of the shooting. Moreover, two of her sons were not questioned during the trial, and the murder weapon was not retrieved, as highlighted by the Court.

The bench said “It is evident that there are glaring inconsistencies in the prosecution version which have been magnified by the absence of the testimony of the material witnesses and the ballistic report coupled with the non-recovery of the weapon of crime”.

Hence, the conviction and sentence of the accused were set aside by the bench.

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