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SC Highlights Weakness of Extrajudicial Confessions in Landmark Murder Case Acquittal

SC Highlights Weakness of Extrajudicial Confessions in Landmark Murder Case Acquittal

The Supreme Court, in its recent ruling, emphasized the inherent limitations of extrajudicial confessions as evidence, considering them inherently weak. It underscored that such confessions should be treated as supplementary rather than primary evidence, emphasizing the necessity of substantive evidence in tandem to establish guilt. This stance was highlighted as the Court acquitted a man previously convicted in a 1998 murder case.

The Supreme Court granted an appeal submitted by the individual, contesting the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The High Court had upheld the trial court's ruling from May 1999, which had found the individual guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

The prosecution contended that in June 1998, the appellant allegedly committed murder at a cinema hall in Bhiwani. The motive behind the act, as alleged by the prosecution, was the appellant's suspicion that the victim was engaged in illicit relations with his wife.

Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta observed that the prosecution's case relied heavily on the testimonies of two witnesses: the victim's brother and another individual who asserted that the accused had confessed to the crime in front of them.

In reference to the evidence presented in the case, the bench concluded that both of these witnesses could be categorized as "wholly unreliable witnesses." Consequently, the bench deemed it unsafe to rely on their testimonies to affirm the guilt of the accused.

Regarding the purported extrajudicial confession made by one of the witnesses, the bench pointed out that this confession was contradicted by the evidence provided by another prosecution witness.

"Even otherwise, extra-judicial confession by its very nature is a weak piece of evidence. It may be used as a corroborative piece of evidence in tandem with substantive evidence," the bench said.

The bench highlighted that the incident occurred around 11:30 a.m., and during cross-examination, the victim's brother admitted that the body was removed from the scene at approximately 4 p.m.
The bench emphasized that it was evident that the victim's brother couldn't have immediately concluded that the deceased had died from a knife wound.
"The natural reaction expected from a brother in such a situation would have been to take immediate steps for taking the victim to the hospital so as to save his life," it said, adding the victim's brother did not make any such attempt, and in this background, his presence at the crime scene was doubtful.
The Supreme Court, having overturned the judgments of both the high court and the trial court, acquitted the appellant.
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