If the Last Seen Theory is Established, Defendant Must Explain his Departure from the Company of the Deceased: Supreme Court
By- Khushi Kundu.
The Supreme Court reiterated in its ruling today that once the last seen theory facts are true, if the defendant does not explain his leaving the company of the deceased, the court can draw unfavorable inferences to the defendant.
A bench composed of CJI NV Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose is adjudicating a criminal appeal for a murder in 1987.
The Trial Court of first instance sentenced the two defendants and sentenced them to life imprisonment based on Article 302 read together with Article 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The Patna High Court subsequently upheld the original verdict in 2010.
On appeal, the court indicated that the defendant’s conviction was based on circumstantial evidence of: (i) the last seen theory; (ii) motive (iii) false information provided and subsequent conduct of the accused.
The prosecution relied on the decision of State of Rajasthan v. Kashi Ram (2006) 12 SCC 254, and urged that when the deceased was seen alive with the defendant for the last time, a presumption would arise that the said accused murdered the deceased.
The court also observed that there was circumstantial evidence against the first defendant, that he did not reveal the whereabouts of the deceased, and then he secretly disappeared from the scene until he surrendered in court. The judge pointed out that there were no charges of evasion or flight against the other defendants. The court also rejected the plea of juvenility taken by the first accused.
Therefore, the conviction and sentence as regards to the first accused was confirmed and the second accused was acquitted of the charges.