HYDERABAD: In general, appellate courts will uphold the orders of trial courts against accused in criminal cases that rest on circumstantial evidence, provided the prosecution is able to establish that all circumstances point towards the guilt of the accused. The circumstances should not leave any scope for even a hypothesis of the innocence of the accused.
But, in a case before the Hyderabad High Court, not only the important link in the chain of circumstances, but several other links, which could have lent support to the case of the prosecution, were found missing. As for the case, an appeal was filed challenging the order of Karimnagar sessions court which had convicted the appellant-accused number one (A1) for the offence punishable under Sections 302 (punishment for murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) of IPC and sentenced him to undergo life imprisonment.
A father lodged a complaint with the police stating that his son (deceased) left the house on a particular day but did not turn up even after four days. The police registered the case as ‘man missing’. The identity of the subscribers in contact with the mobile phone of the missing person was collected and the user was identified (who is the A1 in the present case).
After few months, the police apprehended A1 and the latter confessed about the offence stating that he killed the deceased after stealing his gold ornaments. ATM cards of the deceased were recovered from the accused and charge-sheet was laid for the said offences. After conducting trial, the court passed the impugned judgment against which the present appeal is filed before the HC for relief.
The counsel for appellant contends that there is absolutely no legal evidence pointing to the guilt of the accused and except the confession of the accused. The ATM cards might have been planted with the accused, he added.
A division bench of the HC comprising Justice Challa Kodanda Ram and Justice T Rajani said they do not feel it safe to uphold the verdict of the lower court since several links in the chain of circumstances that could lend support to the prosecution case are found missing. The investigation does not seem to have been in the direction in which it ought to have been. The important link in the chain of circumstances i.e. the SMS messages received by father of the deceased, is missing in the case. The court ordered the accused be set free.