Skull superimposition technique for identifying the deceased cannot be considered infallible: Supreme Court

Skull superimposition technique for identifying the deceased cannot be considered infallible: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court held on Thursday that the skull superimposition technique for identifying the deceased cannot be considered infallible.

The division bench, comprising of CJI UU Lalit and Bela M. Trivedi, observed in the judgment that: "In the present case, since the super-imposition report was not supported by any other reliable medical evidence like a DNA report or post-mortem report, it would be very risky to convict the accused believing the identification of the dead body of the victim through the super-imposition test. It is true that in the case based on circumstantial evidence, if the entire chain is duly proved by cogent evidence, the conviction could be recorded even if the corpus is not found, but when as per the case of prosecution, the dead body of the victim was discovered from the place shown by the accused, it is imperative on the part of the prosecution to prove that the dead body or the skeleton found at the instance of the accused was that of the victim and of none else."

The bench noted that the corpus, when discovered, was in a highly decomposed state, and the skeletal remains were discovered nearly 5 months after the deceased went missing. The identification was thus accomplished by having a forensic expert perform a skull superimposition test. The Supreme Court relied on the case of Pattu Rajan v. State of Tamil Nadu "In Pattu Rajan v. State of Tamil Nadu , this Court has explained that though identification of the deceased through superimposition is an acceptable piece of opinion evidence, however the courts generally do not rely upon opinion evidence as the sole incriminating circumstances, given its fallibility, and the superimposition technique cannot be regarded as infallible."

The Court also observed the "Last Seen Theory," stating, "The failure of the accused, in a case based on circumstantial evidence which included "last seen together theory", to explain under Section 313 Cr.PC as to under what circumstances the victim suffered death, would also not be a ground to arrive at an irresistible conclusion that the accused were involved in the commission of the alleged crime - If there is considerable time gap between the persons seeing together and the proximate time of the crime, the circumstances of last seen together, even if proved cannot clinchingly fasten the guilt of the accused."

Examining other evidence on record, the bench determined that the circumstances relied on by the prosecution did not complete the chain to disprove the accused's innocence. As a result, the court acquitted them by overturning their concurrent conviction.

The Trial Court found S. Kaleeswaran and John Anthonisamy @ John, along with the other three accused, guilty of murder. According to the prosecution, all of the accused participated in the murder of taxi driver John Thomas as part of their conspiracy. Their appeals were dismissed by the Madras High Court.

One of the arguments raised in the appeal before the Supreme Court was that the identity of the deceased's dead body had not been proven.

Case Details


Read the Complete Judgment on the following Link:-

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