After 12 years, woman jailed for hubby’s murder acquitted by Orissa High Court

The alleged murder occurred at a village under Jhirpani police station in Sundargarh district on November 28, 2011.
Orissa High Court
Orissa High CourtFile photo | express

CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Thursday acquitted a woman who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of her husband 12 years back.

The alleged murder occurred at a village under Jhirpani police station in Sundargarh district on November 28, 2011. On December 20, 2012, the court of Additional Sessions Judge, Rourkela held Sunita Mundari guilty of intentionally causing the death of her husband Mangal Mundari by pouring kerosene and setting him on fire for which he sustained severe burn injuries and succumbed.

The division bench of Justice SK Sahoo and Justice Chittaranjan Dash on Thursday set aside the trial court order holding it as “miscarriage of justice” as there was “no clinching evidence against the appellant relating to her involvement in the crime.”

“The circumstances which are appearing on record are not clinching and they do not form a complete chain so as to conclude with certainty that the appellant is the author of the crime. The findings of the trial court against the appellant are not justified and the circumstances which are in favour of the appellant have been ignored and thereby it has resulted in miscarriage of justice,” the bench observed, while allowing her jail criminal appeal (JCRLA) filed in 2014.

The high court indicted the trial court of jumping to the conclusion that Sunita was guilty of committing murder of her husband even when there was no direct evidence relating to the commission of murder of the deceased and the case is based on circumstantial evidence. “The findings of the trial court against the appellant are not justified and the circumstances which are in favour of the appellant have been ignored and thereby it has resulted in miscarriage of justice,” the bench held.

“In a case based on circumstantial evidence there is always a danger that conjecture or suspicion may take the place of legal proof. The court has to be watchful and to ensure that suspicion, however strong should not be allowed to take the place of proof. A moral opinion howsoever strong or genuine and suspicion, howsoever grave, cannot substitute a legal proof,” the bench also observed.

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