Establishment of Chain of Circumstances: CCTV footage, Mobile records, Non-Collection and Production of Electronic Records by Prosecution: Circumstantial Evidence.
Bench: Justice Anil R. Dave, Kurian Joseph, R. Banumathi.
Criminal Appeal No. 142 of 2015
In the case of murder based, on circumstantial evidence, the prosecution is often required to establish circumstances which lead to the inference as to guilt of accused and also such circumstances should be proved fully and should also be conclusive to point out such guilt. The chain of Circumstances proving the guilt of accused must not contain any gap.
In the present case it was appeared to the Hon’ble Supreme Court from the record that, the Courts Below (Trial Court and Hon’ble High Court) has not considered the very important fact that, the CCTV footage was not produced by the prosecution. But, the Courts below have considered oral evidences of prosecution witnesses and based on which, the conviction to the accused persons was ordered and affirmed. As observed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the courts below by relying upon the testimony of the prosecution witnesses held that the CCTV footage was not having any material which being relevant to suggest entrance of any person in the room (where the deceased was allegedly killed).
While considering the importance of CCTV footage, the Hon’ble Court has observed that the method of investigation is pervaded by the advancement of information technology. As such the production of such electronic records, which are connected with the case has became relevant and are strict sense admitted as material evidence. The Court below observed that the CCTV footage was not collected due to fault of investigating agency. However, this Court has ruled out this observation by holding that such non-production of CCTV footage or call records, etc. not to be held as instances of faulty investigation but this has led to withholding of best evidence.
The Court has also pointed that the presumption under Section 114 (g) of the Evidence Act is not mandatory, but it is an option with the Court. Such presumption can be drawn depending upon the nature of the fact and its importance. Thus, this Court has considered the applicability of provisions of section 114(g) against the prosecution, who was in possession of the CCTV footage and can have produced the said before the Court, but the same was not produced by it. In every case depending upon circumstantial evidence, the motive as to commission of the Crime is necessary. The Court has observed that, the prosecution has failed in proving the motive in the present case. As such the Court pointed that, when the motive which was indicated has been proved, then there will be strengthens probability of the offence commission on the part of accused, however, in the present case the evidence proving motive is by way of improvement at the stage of trial. Thus, the Court has considered that there was no complete chain formed by the circumstances and evidenced on the part of prosecution and as such the benefit of doubt was given to the accused persons and their conviction order was set aside.
by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.